Say what you will about the Obama Administration, but it just scored a huge win for the fashion industry. Yesterday, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security shut down 82 websites that had been selling counterfeit apparel and accessories while claiming they were the real mccoy.
WWD reports that the sites, which sold fake Tag Hauer, Nike and Burberry, among other brands, offered unsuspecting consumers prices about 15 percent of the suggested retail prices on products advertised as the real deal. While it’s unclear just how much money the sites made by parroting the goods of companies both foreign and domestic, one government official said it was clear the sites were “thriving.”
The seized domains were registered in the US, but most were operated in China. No one got arrested, but anyone who tries to access one of the sites, which had names like “LouisVuittonOutlet” and “RealTimberland.com”, will get a message explaining the consequences of copyright infringement.
We’ve gotta say just how proud we are that the government is taking these steps to protect the fashion industry — from Sen. Chuck Schumer‘s design protection bill to Sen. Patrick Leahy‘s proposed legislation that would let the Justice Department crack down on other sites that sell counterfeit fashion. All that said, there is one problem — as anyone with an internet connection knows, it’s pretty easy to register a domain name and set up a website. What’s to prevent these companies from doing the same thing, over and over and over again — and quite possibly faster than the government can shut them down.
Until there’s a permanent fix, it comes down to consumer education. As Attorney General Eric Holder told WWD:
“With today’s seizures, we are disrupting the sale of thousands of counterfeit items,” Holder said. As the holiday shopping season gets under way, we are also reminding consumers to exercise caution when looking for deals and discounts online. To put it simply: if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
Feds Close Down Counterfeit Web Sites [WWD (Subscription Required)]