New York—French luxurygoods house Hermès International SCA won $100 million in damages against dozens of websites selling knockoffs of its Kelly and Birkin handbags as well as other iconic Hermès items.
In her judgment against the offending websites, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote ruled in favor of Hermès, agreeing that 34 website—including HermesBagsOutlet.org, HermesBirkin-Bags.org, HermesOutletStore.com—were infringing on Hermès’ trademarks and selling counterfeit goods.
All the websites had ignored temporary restraining orders that barred them from selling fake Hermès merchandise, including Birkin and Kelly handbags, wallets, watches, belts and jewelry. In fact, the websites didn’t even bother defending themselves in federal court.
“Collectively, the defendants sold and offered for sale at least nine distinct types of goods, each bearing numerous counterfeits of the Hermès trademarks and designs,” Cote said in the ruling released Monday.
The judge ruled that cash contained in the websites’ PayPal accounts would be seized to help pay off Hermès’ award. In addition, Cote ordered search engines Google, Bing and Yahoo to stop providing links to the offending websites. And Facebook and Twitter were instructed to “de-index” and remove from any search results the offending sites.
Moreover, if Hermès discovers additional domain names registered by the offending websites, the company “may bring the additional infringing domain names to the court’s attention,” Cote added.
In 2008, Hermès won a lawsuit in a French court claiming eBay didn’t do enough to stop a vendor from selling fake copies of its handbags.
Online sales of counterfeit clothes, bags and jewelry cost makers of original products about $30 billion a year, Tiffany & Co. and other retailers claimed in a U.S. lawsuit.