Gucci has won a $9 million decision in it’s largest counterfeiting case at the U.S. District Court Southern District of Florida this week. Gucci America Inc. sued nearly 100 sites (most of which are Chinese) that were using the Gucci trademarked name, advertisements, logos, and product descriptions and images on their sites and in their domains.
The court’s decision, as first reported by WWD, found a total of 89 domain names were infringing and have been ordered cease all operations within 30 days. Of course, as with most cases like this, the infringers do not turn up to court and therefore it is unlikely that Gucci will see very much of the damages award at all. However, the decision found that Gucci gained ownership of those infringing domains, and the operators of the sites have been ordered to pay $100,000 per site (or $110,000 if the Gucci trademark was used in the URL), for a total of $9 million dollars.
There are a couple of reasons Gucci will not see much of the damages money, outlined below.
1) None of the defendants showed up in court (hence, the default judgment), and so, there is no one to necessarily hold accountable.
2) Operation in Our Sites is not actually much help anymore, despite it being in effect in the USA. It is a government initiative that allows U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to work with PayPal to seize funds in the accounts associated with the individuals and the websites selling counterfeit goods. However, the individuals who run these websites, many of which are owned and run by the same individuals/companies, seem to have caught on and remove any large sums of money from their accounts. As a result, only small amounts of money, say $200, are often seized from these accounts.
As a result, that $9 million dollars that Gucci was awarded is likely not even going to amount to $1 million but, as with most of these cases from big corporations, it is a warning to infringers that they will not tolerate their IP being misused/stolen.