Following a lawsuit filed August 2012, luxury powerhouse Richemont last week won a $100m default judgement against counterfeit selling websites. The lawsuit, Alfred Dunhill Limited et al v. Chen et al, includes the Richemont brands Alfred Dunhill, Roger Dubuis, Officine Panerai, Lange Uhren (A. Lange), and Cartier as plaintiffs. The defendents were several named websites hawking counterfeit versions of Richemont’s premier watch brands.
The judgment follows several other recent high profile cases brought by luxury accessories manufacturers against hundreds of Internet sites selling fake versions of products: Coach (won $267m in damages), Hermes, (won $100 million in damages), and Burberry ($100 million in damages). In all these cases, the judgements have been by default. That is, the named defendants in the lawsuit did not respond to the lawsuit. Resulting from these lawsuits the brands were able to see the offending websites shut down, and they were also provided with seized funds from PayPayl accounts.
Interesting to me is that while these anti-counterfeiting efforts are proving successful, though somewhat symbolic, they solve only one aspect of the problem: distribution. But I believe that there is a bigger and more pressing problem — and the issue which will likely cause counterfeit markets to exist — demand.
Did You Know?
Counterfeit Watches, according to the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH)
Around $1bn a year is lost to counterfeit manufacturers, according to 2010 estimates from Swiss group the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, with around 40m fake watches sold each year compared to 26 million genuine items. Efforts are broadly supported by the Swiss Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH), which has been actively committed to the fight to end counterfeiting since 2009. In recent years the FHH has implemented a series of measures to raise public awareness of a global problem that plagues the luxury industry in general and watchmaking in particular. You can read more about their anti-counterfeiting campaign here.