Today we have a guest blogger, Rachel Drachman. She is not only a very intelligent woman and a mommy, she is also a Law School Graduate whom I am sure will be an amazing attorney in the near future.
Some fashion crimes will land you on the ‘do not wear list’ while others may land you in the slammer. The latter has been a result of the ever budding trade of selling counterfeit luxury goods. The market of consumers who purchase knock-offs are ever expanding, and the supply is even greater. Fashionistas frequent the black market to get the latest luxe goods. Hard to believe Bethenny Frankel admitted to sporting a fake Hermes for years before hitting it big. Commonly seen as a victimless crime many don’t realize the practice is….illegal!!! Just this past month, Jeanine Buford, who sold counterfeit Hermes bags online was sentenced to 5 years in jail and had to pay over $255,000 in fines. The international arena has taken the ‘Drit De Luxe’ (luxury goods law) to a whole new level when China sentenced one counterfeiter to life in prison for counterfeiting approximately $15.7 million in Hermes handbags.
With the rise of the internet and globalization, counterfeiting has taken central stage as one of the lead crimes in desperate need of government surveillance. Intellectual property law has inconveniently placed the burden on the brands to protect their products. Even with the passing of the Lanham Act in 1946 counterfeiters were not deterred because there were no enforceable criminal sanctions against dealing in counterfeit goods. There are those brands, like Prada, that truly believe imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, while others like Nike, Chanel, Hermes and Calvin Klein are seeing their brand sales and equity diluted by all the fakes roaming around-and are beginning a serious crackdown. Legally, there is little to be done against the sale of counterfeited goods, because it is such a large market. The U.S., China, France and Italy are plagued by alley ways selling the newest merchandise. And with the internet, policing becomes close to impossible. Recently, Tiffany & Co. brought a lawsuit against ebay for Trademark violations stemming from ebay selling counterfeit Tiffany products on their Marketplace. (Tiffany v. eBay 2d Cir. 2010). The Supreme Court refused to hear the case because it was not ebay selling the products but the fraudulent vendors. The Supreme Court is leaving it up to Congress to create the proper legislation not the judiciary.
But truth be told, to those who idolize fashion and respect fashion as an art, a ,knock off is a knock off! For many the thrill of getting a $3,000 Celine bag for $60 is worth the trip to Canal Street. But seldom a woman who wears a knock off and does so with her head held high. And I’m guilty of it too. My Chanel from Hong Kong sits beautifully in my closet functioning as a piggy bank in the hopes of one day affording the real thing. I tried sporting it once and I couldn’t help feel like Hester Prynne with everyone staring at the big ‘F’ for ‘Fake’ burned on my chest. Besides their dignity, buyers of knock offs have little to worry about. But seller beware, the feds are beginning to smoke you out.