VF's Vans and The North Face team up on $300M counterfeit lawsuit

The North Face and Vans have teamed up in a new lawsuit seeking over $300 million in damages, with the VF Corporation companies suing over 800 websites for selling counterfeit goods.



The complaint, which was filed in Florida federal court this week, alleges, "The recent explosion of counterfeiting over the Internet has created an environment that requires companies to file a large number of lawsuits[…] in order to protect both consumers and themselves."

At the heart of the lawsuit are 831 websites that are selling fake Vans and North Face product and violating the brands' trademarks. Like other domain name squatter cases, a number of the websites have names that could potentially confuse consumers such as northfaceus.com and vansoff-white.com.

VF Corp also claims that the situation is the result of a a crime ring of people providing false information when they register their domain names to prevent being tracked. The complaint reads that the websites are part of a “scheme to create and maintain an illegal marketplace enterprise on the web for the purpose of diverting business from [Vans and the North Face’s] legitimate marketplace for their genuine goods."

While $300 million sounds like a big windfall, VF Corp is highly unlikely to actually recover this amount. This is because, as in previous luxury knockoff site cases brought by Gucci, Chanel and Dior, the defendants in the current VF Corp case are virtually impossible to locate.

Furthermore, those who are located are keenly aware of the illegality of their businesses and often drain their bank accounts, diverting funds so only a fraction of the income from the counterfeit goods sales remains when the authorities seize assets.

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