San Diego – The Federal Court in Canada has recently awarded the largest ever judgment in a trademark counterfeiting and copyright infringement case. Louis Vuitton, the luxury French fashion label, was awarded $1.4 million and co-plaintiffs Burberry Limited and Burberry Canada were awarded $1.1 million in a judgment against Singga Enterprises (Canada) and Carnation Fashion Company.
Vuitton and Burberry filed the suit last year against the defendants and their respective owners and operators, distributors, on-line sellers, and importers. The complaint accused those companies of selling counterfeit and infringing handbags and wallets bearing the Louis Vuitton trademarked logo and copyrights and the Burberry trademarked logo. In the suit, the plaintiffs claimed that the defendants were selling the infringing products as early as January 2008.
The Canadian Court ruled that the defendants were importing large quantities of the infringing products from large-scale, sophisticated manufacturing operations in China with the intent to distribute the products nationwide in retail shops, gift shows, and to online retailers. High compensatory damages were awarded to Vuitton and Burberry for the “recidivist counterfeiting activities” on a per infringement basis. The Court also awarded the highest ever punitive damages for a counterfeiting case based on the evidence that the defendants had the intent to infringe, planned and deliberated their actions, attempted to conceal their illegal activities, and continued importation and distribution of the infringed products, through a newly created website, after both the filing of the lawsuit and the plaintiffs’ request for summary trial.
In a statement from Valerie Sonnier, Global Intellectual Property Director for Louis Vuitton, she said, “This is a landmark award and decisive victory for Louis Vuitton. We are pleased that the Federal Court in Canada recognizes 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 illegal 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. We hope this decision will send a message to counterfeiters the world over that Louis Vuitton will aggressively implement its zero tolerance policy against counterfeiting.”