Luxury fashion brand Christian Dior has slapped a multi-million-dollar lawsuit on a group of China-based websites for allegedly selling knock-off products.
Filed in the US state of Illinois, the lawsuit covers the alleged counterfeiting of the Christian Dior Couture SA brand including clothing, jewellery, symbols and designs.
According to court documents, Dior said its trademarks have "long been among the most famous and popular of their kind in the world…The Christian Dior trademarks have achieved tremendous fame and recognition, which has only added to the distinctiveness of the marks. As such, the goodwill associated with the Christian Dior trademarks is of incalculable and inestimable value to Dior."
The fashion giant is seeking that all profits from the illegal enterprises be handed over or, alternatively, is wanting damages worth $2m for "each and every use" of its trademarks and $100,000 for each domain name using the brand.
Besides damages, Dior is also seeking to permanently bar the websites from selling Dior-branded goods, and is requesting all domain names be handed over and any online marketplace or search engine be forced to halt business with the defendant sites.
While details of the websites in question and the number being sued have not been revealed, Dior claimed they were based in China and were directly targeting the US consumer market.
The complainant suggested the number of websites included in the lawsuit was large and since many have "virtually identical layouts" stocking products with similar flaws, Dior claimed the websites were likely part of a counterfeit network.
The company believed "the counterfeit Dior products were manufactured by and come from a common source and that defendants are interrelated", court documents said.
According to the complaint, the websites have been designed to look like authorised online retailers, complete with domain names featuring variations on the Christian Dior name. The online stores also have online payment facilities for credit cards, Western Union and PayPal and offer customer service to "further perpetuate the illusion of legitimacy", Dior said.
Despite this, the operators have gone to great lengths to conceal their identities, including fake names and addresses, Dior said.
The fashion firm claimed the websites had caused "economic damages" while deceiving and confusing customers, which is "irreparably harming Dior".
The company has unsuccessfully attempted to stop the illicit activity via its internal anti-counterfeiting measures and felt it has had to resort to court action.
This is not the first time Christian Dior has been forced to go to the courts to fight counterfeits.
In October last year, the firm sued hundreds of interrelated internet sites based in China that allegedly sold fakes to the unknowing public, and earlier this year, more than 400 sites were targeted for legal action for counterfeit concerns.
An increasing number of fashion companies, including Calvin Klein, Chanel and Alexander Wang, are taking internet websites to court over the rise and ease of counterfeiting online. While the monetary damages are often not received as the defendants tend not to be located, the ability to remove the sites and claim domain names are small wins for the industry.