A federal jury in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., awarded Gucci America Inc. damages of $144.2 million from defendants operating an internet scam to sell bogus Gucci products.
A group of counterfeiters were involved in the deception, the court found, selling Gucci branded goods from websites with Gucci domain names, with pictures of Gucci products and advertising copy.
The convicted counterfeiters were ordered by the court to surrender some 155 domain names, some with the word “Gucci” in the address, to the real Gucci.
Gucci’s lawsuit against the deliberately deceptive companies also claimed they used phony Gucci trademarks, faked designation of origin and practiced unfair competition.
The counterfeiters were also accused in the Gucci suit of cybersquatting.
Cybersquatting is defined by Nolo.com as registering, selling or using a domain name with the intent of profiting from the goodwill of someone else’s trademark. It generally refers to the practice of buying up domain names that use the names of existing business with the intent to sell the names for a profit to those businesses.
The counterfeiting of luxury global brands — including leather goods, athletic footwear, and garments — is a major criminal enterprise accounting for untold millions of dollars in losses for the companies which are victimized.
China, for example, has been accused of rampant counterfeiting, costing foreign companies an estimated loss of $20 billion in profits, according to a report from ABC News online.
“We are extremely pleased that the court clearly understood the dangers tro consumers posed by online counterfeiting organizations and has sent a strong message that counterfeiters can expect to receive severe sanctions when caught,” said Patrizio di Marco, president and CEO of Gucci.
DiMarco promised to “…continue to take the initiative in combating counterfeiting wherever and whenever it is found in order to ensure its customers are not deceived and that its unique heritage [is] strongly preserved and fully respected.”