THE FASHION LAW EXCLUSIVE – Gucci has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against a private designer shopping site, alleging that it is selling counterfeit Gucci bags. According to Gucci’s lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday in the Southern District of New York court, New York-based website, Beyond the Rack, “recently promoted, advertised, distributed, offered for sale and/or sold a line of [at least four] unauthorized bags bearing an exact replica of Gucci’s registered Interlocking Non-Facing GG Monogram (or a mark substantially indistinguishable therefrom) and the registered GUCCI mark, including sale via its website located at www.beyondtherack.com.”
The Italian design house states that Beyond the Rack “manufactured, distributed, promoted and/or sold a variety of goods bearing one or more of the Gucci Marks that, upon information and belief, are not genuine Gucci products and are of inferior quality.” These are not just close copies, according to Gucci. The complaint states that the bags that Beyond the Rack is offering and passing off as authentic “are identical to or substantially indistinguishable from [authentic] Gucci product designs.”
Gucci claims that it became aware that Beyond the Rack was selling counterfeit goods in June 2015 “upon receipt of several complaints from consumers who purchased the counterfeit goods from the [Beyond the Rack] website. Such consumers complained to Gucci about the inferior quality of the counterfeit goods purchased from the [Beyond the Rack] website.” The house also claims that it “received reports that Beyond the Rack represents to consumers that it is a distributor of authentic Gucci products,” a point that the site heavily promoted, featuring “images of the counterfeit [Gucci] goods in email ‘blasts’ sent to consumers to promote the sale of the products and to attract consumers to the Beyond the Rack website where it sold the counterfeit goods and other products.”
Gucci alleges that Beyond the Rack’s “promotion and sale of the counterfeit goods is a blatant attempt to misappropriate the skills, expenditures and labors of Gucci, and to profit from the commercial advantage Gucci has established and the international recognition Gucci has achieved for the Gucci [trademarks].”
So, with this in mind, Gucci sets forth claims of federal trademark counterfeiting, and trademark infringement (read up on the difference between these two claims here), and both federal and common law Unfair Competition and False Designation of Origin claims. In addition to injunctive relief (which would require Beyond the Rack to immediately and permanently cease all sales of infringing Gucci goods), the house wants $2 million in damages for each of its trademarks that was infringed by Beyond the Rack, in addition to other monetary damages. A quick review of the complaint shows that Gucci is claiming that Beyond the Rack has infringed a number of its trademarks.
Our friends over at Refinery29 reached out to Gucci, which released the following statement: “In order to protect the integrity of the Gucci brand and our loyal customers, Gucci has filed a lawsuit against online retailer Beyond the Rack alleging trademark counterfeiting, trademark infringement and unfair competition, based on the retailer’s promotion and sale of counterfeit handbags that were falsely presented as genuine Gucci product. Gucci is committed to protecting consumers from such illegal activity and to vigorously enforcing our intellectual property rights against those who sell counterfeit or infringing Gucci merchandise.”
Stay tuned …