16 November 2018Trademarks

Chanel sues retailer over counterfeit handbags

Luxury fashion brand Chanel accused an e-commerce platform of selling counterfeit handbags that the website had advertised as “genuine and authentic”, in a complaint filed earlier this week at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Authentic Chanel products “command top-dollar prices” due to the brand’s extraordinary design and quality, as well as the limited number of each design that are manufactured, the complaint said.

However, e-commerce platform The RealReal is allegedly selling Chanel-branded handbags “which it purports to be genuine but are in fact counterfeit”, according to lawsuit which was filed on Tuesday, November 14. The fashion brand also accused The RealReal of false advertising and unfair competition.

The New York-based platform claims to “give new life to pieces by brands from Chanel to Cartier”, according to its website, and “with an expert behind every item” it reportedly ensures the goods are authentic.

Chanel accused the retailer of attempting to “deceive consumers” into believing that the fashion brand is affiliated with it and that the goods sold by The RealReal are authentic.

When consumers purchase “purportedly genuine” Chanel items they are relying on The RealReal’s inspection of the goods and not Chanel’s, said the lawsuit.

An investigation by Chanel identified at least seven counterfeit Chanel handbags advertised as “genuine and authentic” by The RealReal, the complaint added.

The fashion brand said that The RealReal used Chanel’s trademarks, without permission, to sell counterfeit goods which are “vastly inferior and materially different from genuine Chanel products”.

Chanel owns a number of trademarks “which represent the prestige and quality that have become associated with Chanel and its luxury designs”. These include ’Chanel’ (US number 626,035), registered in 1956 for women’s handbags, and the ‘CC’ monogram (1,314,511), registered in 1985 for leather goods.

The fashion brand requested an accounting of The RealReal’s sales and profits “flowing from its counterfeiting and trademark infringement”, in addition to triple damages and attorneys’ fees.

Chanel also asked the court to direct The RealReal to recall the counterfeit products that it has distributed, and to notify future potential customers that the purported authenticity of its products is not verified or guaranteed by Chanel.

Speaking to WIPR a spokesperson for The RealReal said that the retailer "unequivocally" rejects Chanel's claims.

The spokesperson added: "Chanel’s lawsuit is nothing more than a thinly-veiled bullying effort to stop consumers from reselling their authentic used goods, and to prevent customers from buying those goods at discounted prices."

This is the latest claim in a string of suits that Chanel has filed to protect its brand this year.

In August, the fashion brand filed a trademark complaint against a Denver-based company over wood dining chairs that allegedly infringe the company’s famous ‘CC’ monogram marks.

And, in March, Chanel sued a vintage store in New York for “piggybacking” on its brands and selling counterfeit products.

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More on this story

20 March 2018   Chanel has brought a lawsuit alleging trademark infringement against a vintage store in New York, accusing the retailer of “piggybacking” on the reputation of luxury brands.
21 August 2018   Luxury fashion brand Chanel has filed a trademark infringement claim against a Denver-based company over wood dining chairs that allegedly infringe the company’s ‘CC’ monogram marks.