Thursday, May 2, 2013

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Fashion Law

The Battle of Counterfeits in Big Cities:  Part 1--

Is your city struggling with the counterfeit market?  Mine is.  Chicago, like many other cities is doing its best to protect the intellectual property of fashion designers.  Because the counterfeit industry is a billion-dollar market, both the federal and local governments must stay on their toes in this battle.

The Legislature and Fashion Law:  Partners Against Crime

Just recently, NYC Councilwoman Margaret Chin again filed an ordinance to punish purchasers of counterfeit goods.  Canal Street in New York, as well as various other locations are widely known for their stock of counterfeit goods.  Many put this shopping spot on their itinerary when heading to the Big Apple.  Will this legislation deter tourists from heading to NYC?

Although her legislation has not reached the point of passing, she's quite adamant about the need.  Designers surely agree.  Concerns have come up about the reason for punishing the consumer, but the sale of counterfeits is already a punishable offense.  And to be honest, consumers know when they're buying a fake.  There are so many signs.  Chin said. “If you go into a back room, basement or van, you probably know what you’re doing is not legal.”  Well put Councilwoman.

As we've noted before, designer products are in the market in 4 classes:

(1) The real thing

(2) The real thing....but the designer finds something about it imperfect for sale
(3) A great fake; looks real, but it's not.  This item is a counterfeit.  
(4) A terrible fake.  Sellers and buyers should know and do better.  These are knockoffs, when Coach "C"s become Gs, Gucci "G"s look like Cs, and maybe this bag is sold at a mall kiosk.  Tell tale signs are evident it's not real.  

This diagram from our friends at Fox Rothschild helps determine a fake Louis Vuitton.  We'll share more tips as this series continues.  

Law Enforcement Does Their Part: My beloved Chicago is also fighting the battle against fakes.  From September 2011 through the same time in 2012, Chicago saw more than 100,000 fakes seized, totaling to more than $5million.  In conjunction with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Office of Homeland Security Investigations, the Cook County Sheriff has worked to follow the trail of the counterfeit, often leading them to flea markets and even purse parties.  They are then often able to follow the trail back to the source.  

The trail of the counterfeit is what makes this phenomenon so interesting.  The route is quite interesting and includes pieces like contracts, licensing, and labor agreements.

Stay tuned for next week's Part 2 on counterfeits in big cities, where we'll trace the trail of counterfeits to their source.  

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