Louis Vuitton sues Chinese for selling fakes

Luxury retailer Louis Vuitton is suing three individuals in China for selling counterfeit items on Alibaba’s online shopping outlet Taobao.

Damages of 250,000 RMB ($37,900) are being sought by the LVMH-owned company, says a statement on a Beijing court’s website uploaded yesterday. It says the suits are against a person surnamed Liang and two with the surname Han, who were sentenced in 2014 for selling counterfeit Louis Vuitton clothing, shoes and handbags between 2011 and 2014.

This move comes nine months after luxury conglomerate Kering pursued legal action over fakes on Alibaba’s platforms. The group sued Alibaba directly, filing the suit in the US rather than China.

In 2013 LVMH signed a co-operation agreement with Taobao to fight fakes on its platforms. Under the agreement, Taobao agreed to proactively track down and remove listings of counterfeit LVMH items.

Meanwhile, Alibaba has been working to defend its reputation. It hired a former counterfeit investigator from Apple in December as its new head of global intellectual property enforcement. This followed the American Apparel & Footwear Association calling on the US Trade Representative to add Alibaba back to its blacklist of “notorious markets” for fakes (it was removed in 2012). Alibaba has also hired extra staff to fight fakes and is releasing an English-language version of its intellectual property reporting system.

The courts’ decisions on the Kering and Louis Vuitton lawsuits could have an impact on the way brands formulate their China anti-counterfeit strategy in the years to come, observes Jing Daily. Kering has challenges with its US lawsuit as the Bank of China has refused to comply with a subpoena to disclose information about counterfeiters’ bank accounts to the New York District Court. The bank is also appealing a $50,000-a-day fine imposed by the court, arguing that the order violates Chinese bank secrecy laws.

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