Counterfeiting has been prevalent in the fashion industry for as long as anyone can remember, but it can be said to have exploded into the mainstream since “big name brands” started to become popular after the beginning of the 20th century. The media and easy access to information have seen the cementing of counterfeiting in the fashion industry, and it has become a sub-industry in its own right! More recently viewers of the hit movie of 2021 #HouseofGucci (along with Adam Driver and the effervescent Lady Gaga) were exposed to the prevalence of counterfeit in the fashion industry, as well as the attitude towards it in the 20th century – in which, in a rather emblematic scene, the protagonists observe that GUCCI knockoffs are of quite good quality and that the proliferation of GUCCI knockoffs on the market might not be a thing!
However, the attitudes of fashion behemoths have certainly changed in recent years, not least due to factors such as ease of access to the internet and social media (please see our previous articles on the subject at pretend fashion and Counterfeiting of luxury goods – Guccio Gucci SPA c. Intiyaz Sheikh).
However, the fairly close connection between the fashion industry and the counterfeit world is understandable. The fashion industry is an expression of creativity, which captures everyone’s imagination and above all, it affects almost all of humanity and is an integral part of daily life. Thus, in the fashion industry, nothing is more important than the labels that display the names of the brands, and the names of these brands are their respective heirlooms. Fashion is also known for its cultural heritage, elegance and colors in all parts of the world. In the fashion industry, before the creation and widespread use of brands, consumers were more concerned with quality, comfort, price and design, but this has been perverted over time. These days, we’d rather spend $50 on a counterfeit item from a high-fashion brand, than spend $70 on the same, much better-made product from a not-so-famous/in-demand brand.
However, with the gradual evolution of the fashion industry, and essentially the transformation of it into an economy of scale, through the mass production of clothing which began around the middle of the 19th century, the fashion industry faces a threat. counterfeiting on scales hitherto unknown.
Currently, the fashion industry is one of the most popular and lucrative industries in the world, and the industry is an integral part of daily life.
Intellectual property in the fashion industry
Intellectual property rights are the rights that are used to secure the originality of ideas (and the expression of ideas) and are also used to protect intellectual creation from those who would steal or enrich it unfairly. In the context of the fashion industry, brand image and reputation form the backbone of the industry – names such as GUCCI, Louis Vuitton, etc., carrying a sense of gravity and reverence, which few other industries could match. Apart from trademarks/trademarks, industrial designs as well as copyright are part of the intellectual property portfolios of members of the fashion industry.
Counterfeiting can be defined as an imitation of something else with the intent to deceive. People are selling duplicate products of the most popular brands in local markets with slight differences, but they are quite similar to the original in pattern, design and color schemes. Additionally, as noted at the beginning of this article, counterfeits can also be of very high quality, which in fact grossly exacerbates the threat of counterfeiting in the industry.
Arguably the most popular counterfeit market is clothing, followed by items such as watches, shoes, handbags and jewelry. Some of the most copied names include H&M, Gucci, Burberry, Hermes, Nike, Puma, Adidas, Blackberry and Cartier etc. Nowadays, in many bazaars or markets, you can hear many sellers calling customers, claiming to sell exactly copy (or “first copy”) of ABC brands. What is worse is that one can easily view these fakes online and have them delivered to their doorstep.
Thus, the cases of lawsuits filed against counterfeiting in the fashion industry in India are increasing day by day. For example, in March 2021, the police had seized huge quantities of counterfeits of popular brands, including Killer, Mufti, Allen Solly, Louis Philippe. They also seized huge amounts of labels and tags from popular clothing brands. The goods seized were worth more INR 20,000,000 (20 million) through social media and online platforms. The case under Section 63 of the Copyright Act 1957 and Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code was filed against the two persons for selling fake clothes of different brands.1.
Counterfeiting in India’s Fashion Industry – Recent Trends
Few recent counterfeiting and trademark infringement cases are as follows:
Guccio Gucci SPA vs. Intiyaz Sheikh2
Global luxury giant Gucci has won an ex parte reprieve from the Tis Hazari District Court in Delhi, which stopped a local manufacturer from using the brand’s iconic logo on its products. An action was brought by the plaintiff seeking to restrain the defendant from infringing its trademark and copyright in respect of the inferior quality socks sold by them under the GUCCI trademark. Plaintiff learned that Defendant was illegally manufacturing socks using Plaintiff’s trademark and logo and therefore, in addition to an action for a permanent injunction, had also sought the grant of an interim injunction as well as an application for the appointment of local commissioner. search the accused’s premises.
The court not only granted a permanent injunction in favor of Gucci but also ordered the defendant to pay INR 200,000 in damages and INR 166,000 in costs.
Hermes International & Anr. against Macky Lifestyle Private Limited & Anr3
Hermes International & Anr (the plaintiff) had sued for infringement of its trademarks and copyrights, deception, dilution, tarnishing, rendering of accounts, damages, delivery, unfair competition, misappropriation, etc. . against the defendants.
Hermès International is the adopter and registered owner of the famous three-dimensional shape mark(s), under which it enjoys exclusive property rights to the shape of the “Birkin” bag, as well as the “Hermès” marks and the trademark stylized “HERMES”. for its products – including its luxury bags and accessories.
A few months ago, in December 2021, Hermes obtained an interim injunction from the Hon’ble Delhi High Court, inter alia restraining the defendants from advertising on their website or any other third party website, the infringing goods.
M/s Blue Heaven Cosmetics Pvt Ltd v Shivani Cosmetics through its partners Vinod Monga and Nishant Monga4
Blue Heaven Cosmetics (plaintiff) filed suit in Delhi High Court against Shivani Cosmetics through its partners Vinod Monga and Nishant Monga (defendant) for trademark/trade dress/copyright/style infringement of writing / color combination / label / packaging / passing goods, delivering, profit accounting and other ancillary measures.
Plaintiff came across Defendant’s disputed product (eyeliner) which is an exact replica of Plaintiff’s trademark/copyright/trade dress/color scheme/handwriting style / packaging / etiquette / general dress. Plaintiff is harmed by Defendants’ use/infringement of registered trade dress/label/copyright/handwriting style/color combination/packaging rights in its “BLUE HEAVEN” brands.
On December 23, 2021, the Honorable High Court ruled that the defendant not only copied the mark but also the trade dress / copyright / writing style / color combination / label / the packaging / general presentation of the mark of the applicant. Accordingly, the court prohibited the defendant from using the trade dress/copyright/handwriting style/color combination/label/packaging/general dress or in any other way that directly or indirectly infringes the applicant’s/applicant’s trade dress/color scheme/writing style. / packaging / label / copyright in “BLUE HEAVEN”.
Relaxo Footwears Limited v Nikhil Footwears and Anr5
RELAXO FOOTWEARS LIMITED (the plaintiff), a well-known Indian footwear brand, filed an action in the Delhi High Court against Nikhil Footwears (the defendant), seeking an ex parte ad-provisional injunction. This lawsuit concerned the registered designs of Relaxo, as the defendant sold shoes of identical designs.
The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendants believed that they were part of the Action group of companies which was in the business of manufacturing and marketing footwear products under the “ACTION” brand. The plaintiffs were aware of an identical imitation of the product marketed under the “ACTION” brand. The plaintiffs issued two cease and desist notices to the defendants, to which they replied that they were not selling any like/identical product as mentioned. Plaintiffs alleged that the challenged products clearly use the trademark “ACTION” as well as an email ID with the domain name actionshoes.com and are claimed to be manufactured by M/s. Nikhil shoes. Plaintiffs stated that Defendants use the shield of several businesses/rights/corporations to commit their unlawful acts in order to escape liability and legal action. The applicants claimed to have also registered designs for some of their products.
On September 10, 2021, the Honorable High Court of Delhi prohibited the defendants from manufacturing, selling, offering for sale, advertising, importing, etc. the affected products bearing designs which are an obvious or fraudulent imitation of Applicant’s registered designs which may amount to infringement and/or deception of Applicant’s designs.
The fashion industry is glamorous and dazzles all of mankind. Creativity is the backbone of the industry, and reputation and goodwill is one that has taken years to build. On top of that, consumer trust is something that takes years to build in the fashion industry, and it’s one that can be easily lost – after all, given the large number of fashion brands remarkable quality and similar price, it is very easy to change brands. Thus, the scourge of counterfeiting is the one that must be eliminated from the fashion industry.
For this, consumer awareness is more important than ever, as many consumers are now willingly and knowingly parting with their hard-earned money for counterfeits. However, in recent times, brands in the industry have been fighting fire with fire, as seen in the recent cases pictured above, and it is hoped that the problem of counterfeiting in the fashion industry will slowly decrease in coming years.