Vancouver–Luxurygoods brands Louis Vuitton and Burberry won record damages of $2.5 million Canadian (about $2.6 million) in a “landmark” counterfeiting and copyright case in Canada.
The award from the country’s Federal Court included $1.4 million Canadian for Louis Vuitton and $1.1 million Canadian for co-plaintiffs Burberry Ltd. and Burberry Canada.
The case was brought against Singga Enterprises of Canada and Carnation Fashion Company, both based in British Columbia, and Ontario-based Altec Productions, as well as their owners, operators, importers, distributors and online sellers.
‘Landmark Award and Decisive Victory’
The companies had been involved in “large-scale, sophisticated” manufacturing operations in China, importing “vast amounts” of fake handbags into Canada for sale.
“Those companies had been selling, since as early as January 2008, counterfeit and infringing fashion accessories, specifically handbags, bearing Louis Vuitton trademarks and copyrights and Burberry trademarks,” Louis Vuitton said.
The court awarded the record damages in recognition of what it termed “recidivist counterfeiting activities.”
In his written decision,Judge James Russell called the situation “egregious” and granted the highest punitive damages award of its kind in a counterfeiting case in Canada. He wrote that the award justly reflected the defendants’ deliberate actions to dupe buyers, their attempts to conceal the illegal activities, and their continued importation and distribution of counterfeit goods though a newly formed website even after lawsuit was filed.
Hailing a “landmark award and decisive victory”, Valerie Sonnier, global intellectual property director for Louis Vuitton, said: “We are pleased that the Federal Court in Canada recognises 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 trademark counterfeiting a crime in Canada and grant Customs in Canada much needed ex officio authority to seize counterfeit goods at the border,” Sonnier added.
The case is the latest in a series of Canadian court fights over counterfeiting. In 2008, Vuitton won a $980,000 award in another counterfeiting case, which until now had been the highest such award in Canada.