Louis Vuitton wins copyright case; a decisive victory
Louis Vuitton, part of LVMH, the world's leading luxury group, announced that the Federal Court of Canada has awarded the largest ever judgment in a trademark counterfeiting and copyright case in Canada, with $1.4 million for Louis Vuitton and $1.1 million for its co-plaintiffs Burberry Limited and Burberry Canada Inc., for a total judgment of CAD $2.5 million.
Louis Vuitton and Burberry had brought an action last year against Singga Enterprises (Canada) Inc., and Carnation Fashion Company, both based in Burnaby, B.C., Altec Productions, based in Markham, Ontario, and their respective owners and operators, major importers, distributors and on line sellers. Those companies had been selling, since as early as January 2008, counterfeit and infringing fashion accessories, specifically handbags, bearing Louis Vuitton trade-marks and copyrights and Burberry trade-marks.
The statement of claim asserted and the Court found that the defendants were involved in large-scale, sophisticated manufacturing operations in China and were importing vast amounts of counterfeit products into Canada with the intent of selling them nationwide in stores, at gift shows, and on line. The Court awarded high compensatory damages for the "recidivist counterfeiting activities" on a per infringement basis. Finding the situation "egregious," the Court also granted the highest punitive damages award of its kind in a counterfeiting case in Canada. This award reflected the defendants' knowing, planned and deliberate actions, their attempts at concealing the counterfeiting activities, and their continued importation and distribution of the counterfeit goods (though a newly formed website) after both the commencement of the proceeding and the plaintiffs' application for summary trial.
Valerie Sonnier, Global Intellectual Property Director for Louis Vuitton said, “This is a landmark award and decisive victory for Louis Vuitton. We are pleased that the Federal Court in Canada recognizes the importance of protecting intellectual property, and awarding high compensatory damages as well as full punitive and exemplary damages as a strong punishment and an equally strong deterrent against counterfeiting and infringing activity. This decision also serves to highlight the need to make trade-mark counterfeiting a crime in Canada and grant Customs in Canada much needed ex officio authority to seize counterfeit goods at the border. We hope this decision will send a message to counterfeiters the world over that Louis Vuitton will aggressively implement its zero tolerance policy against counterfeiting.”
Founded in Paris in 1854, Louis Vuitton is synonymous with the art of travel. Its iconic trunks, luggage, and bags have accompanied journeys throughout time. With the arrival of Artistic Director Marc Jacobs in 1997, Louis Vuitton extended its expertise to ready-to-wear, shoes, accessories, watches and jewelry, available in its exclusive network of stores located all over the world.