16 October 2018Trademarks

Michael Kors targets ‘revolving door of counterfeiters’ in NYC

Michael Kors has accused property owners and their tenants of operating a counterfeit distribution hub in New York City.

The American fashion brand filed its lawsuit for counterfeiting, trademark infringement, and trademark dilution, among other claims, at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York on Friday, October 12.

It comes shortly after Michael Kors announced that it would purchase luxury Italian fashion house Versace for $2.12 billion. Lawyers told WIPR that the Kors-Versace deal had been driven by IP and branding. Last year, the fashion brand acquired footwear designer Jimmy Choo for $1.2 billion.

In the complaint filed last week, Michael Kors explained that certain areas of New York City have long been major distribution hubs for counterfeit goods that are then sold throughout the US.

Trademark owners have been “plagued” by this illegal activity for many years, the fashion brand said.

Michael Kors owns number of US trademarks in a variety of classes, including ‘Michael Kors’ for ladies clothing (1,977,507), accessories (2,049,326), and jewellery (4,052,748).

Other word mark registrations include ‘MK Michael Kors’ (3,438,412) and ‘Michael Kors Island’ (3,146,355), and the fashion brand also secured a figurative trademark for a unique handbag shape (3,356,080) in 2007.

For more than a decade, New York company Amush Enterprises and the owners of a building located at 155 West 29th Street, New York, have allegedly “turned a blind eye” to the “revolving door of counterfeiters” renting or leasing space in the building.

Michael Kors said that the most recent ‘John Doe’ counterfeiters, including an enterprise called Am-Tex Apparels, have occupied the space since April 2017, during which time they have manufactured, stored, and distributed counterfeit products bearing the fashion brand’s trademarks.

A civil seizure of the goods occurred in April 2017, but Amush Enterprises ignored the tenants’ illegal activity and allowed the counterfeiting to continue, the complaint said.

Michael Kors claimed that a further seizure occurred last month, allowing the fashion brand to confirm that the counterfeiting activity still exists as the brand’s investigator purchased ten counterfeit Michael Kors bags for $350.

The defendants’ activity continues “in total disregard” of Michael Kors’ right to control its trademarks and the fashion brand has no adequate remedy at law, the suit said.

Michael Kors has asked the court for injunctive relief, triple damages, attorneys’ fees, and all profits obtained by the defendants as a result of their infringing activities.

In August, more than 20 people were charged with illegally bringing counterfeit goods—including Michael Kors wallets—into the US, from China.

Earlier in the year, a Florida-based man was sentenced to more than a year in prison and fined $264,408 for selling counterfeit goods out of a flea market. The products included counterfeit items with illegitimate labels from Michael Kors.

Want brand protection that counts toward your bottom line? Join WIPR on October 17th for a complimentary webinar.  Find out more here.

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More on this story

17 August 2018   More than 20 individuals have been charged for illegally bringing counterfeit goods manufactured in China, including Louis Vuitton handbags, into the US.
26 September 2018   Michael Kors’ $2.12 billion purchase of luxury Italian fashion house Versace has been driven by IP and branding, according to lawyers.