When it comes to counterfeit goods, we’ve heard of brands suing stores, brands suing Google, and, heck, even brands suing other brands, but we’ve never heard of brands suing an entire city. But according to a recent complaint, that’s exactly what Coach has decided to do.
According to WWD, Coach filed a trademark lawsuit against the City of Chicago last week, “alleging that vendors at a city-controlled street market have sold counterfeit goods.”
In the summer of 2009, investigators for Coach found several stalls in Chicago’s New Maxwell Street Market selling counterfeit goods. The brand says they sent the City of Chicago a cease-and-desist letter, asking them to “halt further sales of counterfeits at the market” but that Chicago never responded. The suit claims they found fake goods for sale as recently as March of this year.
And while the idea of suing an entire city over some fake bags sounds strange, WWD reports that it’s not all that out of the ordinary.
Intellectual property owners regularly serve suits on the owners of flea markets and swap meets thought to be hosting counterfeit dealers under the premise of contributory infringement. The legal theory holds that market owners who should have reasonably known such activity was taking place can be found liable for it.
Knowing that, we’re surprised that New York hasn’t been hit with a lawsuit yet — though maybe it has to do with the City’s efforts in cracking down on the counterfeit market. Either way, we’d recommend that Lady Liberty watch her back.