Earlier this week Chanel filed a claim in the U.S. District Court is Las Vegas against 399 websites alleging cyberpiracy and trademark infringement due to the sale of counterfeit Chanel products bearing the Chanel name and logo. Many of these websites operate outside the country and dilute the Chanel mark. (Intellectual Property Brief)
Claimants in trademark infringement cases need to prove customer confusion – that is, they need to prove that customers visiting one of the 399 websites may be confused as to whether the products are authentic Chanel goods. Since the websites are unlawfully using the Chanel marks and selling fake products I don’t think this will be a difficult case to prove.
This is not the first time that Chanel has made efforts to protect its mark. Last year I wrote a post about Chanel winning several domain name disputes where counterfeit goods were sold online through websites that misleadingly had the word “Chanel” in the url and in October 2010, Chanel Inc. sued a chain of costume jewelry stores for selling counterfeit merchandise. Chanel also took out an infamous letter on the back page of WWD asking editors not to use the Chanel name to describe products that are not made by Chanel. The ad stated:
A note of information and entreaty to fashion editors, advertisers, copywriters and other well-intentioned mis-users of our Chanel name:
Chanel was a designer, an extraordinary woman who made a timeless contribution to fashion. Chanel is a perfume. Chanel is modern elegance in couture, ready-to-wear, accessories, watches and fine jewelry. Chanel is our registered trademark for fragrance, cosmetics, clothing, accessories and other lovely things. Although our style is justly famous, a jacket is not ‘a Chanel jacket’ unless it is ours, and somebody else’s cardigans are not ‘Chanel for now.’ And even if we are flattered by such tributes to our fame as ‘Chanel-issime, Chanel-ed, Chanels, and Chanel-ized’, PLEASE DON’T. Our lawyers positively detest them. We take our trademark seriously.
Chanel has even sent cease and desist letters to DC Shoes because of the similarity in logo design.
With all of this legal activity surrounding the Chanel brand, it’s a little funny that Thursday Friday is now selling a tote bag with the likeness of the Chanel 2.55 bag printed on it. You may have heard of the brand a while back when they came out with the Birkin totes – which by the way they are now being sued for. It seems to me it’s just a matter of time before Chanel sues them as well.