On Jan. 7, Tiffany & Co. filed suit in Florida federal court against 36 websites it claims are selling counterfeit versions of its products—the latest in a series of suits whose costs the jeweler calls “staggering.”
The websites, with URLs like gototiffanystores.com, are “promoting, selling, offering for sale, and distributing goods bearing counterfeits and confusingly similar imitations of Tiffany’s trademarks,” says the suit. It alleges federal trademark infringement and counterfeiting, false designation of origin, cyber-squatting, and common law unfair competition.
Tiffany & Co. believes that people behind the sites mostly reside in the People’s Republic of China, and it believes they provide “false and misleading information” when applying for domains. The legal papers take note of the difficulty of policing trademarks in the online era.
“The recent explosion of counterfeiting over the Internet has created an environment which requires Tiffany to file a large number of lawsuits, often it later turns out, against the same individuals and groups,” the papers say. “The financial burden on Tiffany and companies similarly situated is staggering, as is the resulting burden on the Federal court system.”
The suit seeks to permanently enjoin the people behind the websites, who are listed as “John Does,” from establishing future sites with the Tiffany mark. It also asks that the sites be disabled, their domains be removed from search engines, and that the contents of their PayPal accounts be emptied and turned over to Tiffany.
Earlier this month, a group of brands under the Richemont umbrella won a $100 million default judgment against a series of sites it claimed were selling counterfeit versions of its watches.