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July 31, 2007

Dead Again

Pierre Berge regularly claimed that the Yves Saint Laurent's retirement would mark the death of couture.

Teri Agins wrote, "It's not only the end of the millennium, but the end of fashion as we once knew it."

And in a new book to be released on August 16, Dana Thomas argues, "Luxury has lost its luster."  Just in case we missed the point, the volume is cleverly entitled Deluxe -- presumably with emphasis on the "de." 

Pity about those apparently deadly double-digit increases in sales volume and profits reported almost daily in the press and in earnings statements.  Who knew?

Despite analyses more suited to the Grim Reaper than frivolous fashionisti, however, stories about design and luxury tend to amuse.  In her chapter on fakes, "Faux Amis," Thomas offers the following vignette:

One day in 2004, New York security expert Andrew Oberfeldt and lawyer Heather McDonald were participating in a raid in a counterfeit mall on Canal Street in downtown Manhattan, when they saw a petite blond woman sobbing hysterically.  In a thick Texas drawl, she pleaded with McDonald:  "This is my first time to New York and this is awful!  I just want to take my things and go home."

McDonald asked the police what the Texan's "things" were:  "She had fifty-eight of the same bag," McDonald says incredulously.

McDonald said no, and the Texan left in a huff.

Five minutes later she returned, tears gone.

"I'm on the cell phone with my lawyer, and he says you can't do this without my day in court, so I'll take my bags and go," she declared.

"No," McDonald responded.  "I'll take your bags and see you in court."

"Two weeks later we're doing a raid at a nearby location," McDonald recalled when we met in June 2005.  "And who do we see?  The same Texan.  I told her, 'I thought you said you were never coming back here.'  And you know what she said?"

"What?"  I asked.

"Bite me!"

Yes, dear readers, I have taught in Texas -- although hopefully not the lawyer of the blonde in question.  And I will uncharacteristically refrain from further comment. 

July 30, 2007

Knockoff News 66

A weekly (or thereabouts) collection of news about counterfeits, fakes, knockoffs, replicas, imitations, and the culture of copying in general around the globe:

And finally, a screenshot honoring a much-loved small screen series that has become one of this summer's big screen events:

 

Meanwhile,
Following a long tradition of Simpsons knockoffs:

 

July 28, 2007

Welcome, Independent readers!

What’s the advantage to creative designers of a legal system that protects not only trademarks, but also the underlying designs?  UK Independent reporter Susie Mesure reports on the results of recent actions by Jimmy Choo and Chloe against high street copyists.  The short answer: £££.  (That’s $$$ on this side of the pond – or would be, if US law recognized such claims.)  And yes, those quotes are from your humble blogger – thanks, Susie.

Interestingly, the article also notes that, according to a survey by the law firm Davenport Lyons, only 39% of consumers believe that lookalikes or knockoffs harm the original brands, as opposed to 55% who recognize harm from fakes or counterfeits.  Then again, 33% of women lie about our weight, too.

Jimmy Choo originals

July 27, 2007

La donna è mobile

Glenda BaileyHarper's Bazaar Editor-in-Chief Glenda Bailey is committed to the latest trends in both fashion and film.  Not only did she include a Simpsons-style layout in the August issue, but she even went yellow herself -- albeit while wearing a stylish Lanvin blouse. 

When it comes to the question of knockoffs, it turns out that Glenda's position is equally cutting-edge.  Sure, according to Brandweek she created Marie Claire's notorious "Splurge vs. Steal" feature when she was EIC of the British edition and then imported it to the U.S. when she took over the American version.  Since taking the helm of Harper's Bazaar, however, she's joined the fight against both trademark counterfeiters and design pirates

Proof positive that it's a woman's privilege to change her mind -- and sometimes, that's a good thing.

P.S.  Haven't seen The Simpsons Movie yet?  You may be amused by Bart's chalkboard-writing punishment.

July 26, 2007

Topped Out

Topshop refuses to get its knickers in a twist over Chloe's allegations that the mass market retailer knocked off a dress from the See by Chloe line in violation of UK law.  Instead, British Vogue reports that Topshop has agreed to take the remaining dresses out of stores and to pay Chloe more than £12,000 (over USD $24,500) – without admitting to copying. 

 See by Chloe (left, £185) v Topshop (£35)

Of course, with average sales of 30 pairs of knickers per minute, Topshop can afford to remain sanguine about the occasional legal challenge to its design tactics. 

July 25, 2007

The Risks of Recycling

In the industrialized world, yesterday's necessities and tedious chores have become today's trends and recreational activities.  The hours that great-grandma spent picking, plucking, preparing, and cooking dinner have become the "slow food" movement.  Living in makeshift shelters far from other humans or even running water is now "camping."  And reusing discarded clothes and other items is one of the manifestations of "sustainable fashion."

Miguel Androver Fall 2000When, exactly, did castoffs become officially cool?  Rewind to 2000-01.  At about the same time that Hollywood starlets (or rather, their stylists) discovered that "vintage" clothing -- previously known as "old" -- could serve as an alternative to 1990s minimalism, a group of emerging designers decided that they could improve on vintage by reworking existing pieces according to their own visions.  Labels like Imitation of Christ, Libertine, and Miguel Adrover sent recycled but sometimes recognizable garments down the runway, to editorial acclaim.  The most prescient of these designers may have been Russell Sage, who called his Fall 2000 collection, "So Sue Me." 

Wait -- how did law get into this?  Recycling is a good thing, right? 

Perhaps not, from the perspective of a trademark owner.  Take a closer look at Miguel Adrover's collection, which includes reused Burberry plaid, Louis Vuitton bags, and even New York Yankees caps.  Then check out Russell Sage's runway, which also featured bits of Burberry in several looks, along with a some Tommy Hilfiger. 

Assuming that neither Miguel nor Russell copied the trademarks, but instead simply acquired and reused trademarked goods, weren't they safe from legal challenge?  And weren't the original goods theirs, bought and paid for, to be used at will?  In other words, doesn't the "first sale doctrine" in trademark, which allows resale of a logoed good, protect against liability for infringement? 

Not necessarily.  The first sale doctrine allows the resale of an unaltered item, like a Burberry raincoat; it doesn't always protect against alteration and commercial distribution.  The idea is that Burberry has a certain standard for the appearance and performance of its coats.  If they're redesigned but still bear Burberry markings, consumers could confuse the altered versions with Burberry originals, thus affecting opinion of the company.  This could be for the better -- after all, Burberry wasn't exactly trendy back in 2000 (and ultimately backed away from suing Adrover) -- but the right to control the trademark still rests with its owner.

Fast forward to the present.  Why does all of this trademark first sale doctrine business matter now?  Well, take a look at the "Prada Ironic Advertisement Wallet," sold yesterday on Etsy.com (and discovered by Fashionista):

The resourceful 17-year-old designer, Lia Saunders, created the wallet from an ad torn out of Vogue and claims to have "successfully usurped the entire silly Brand system."  As Lia's own ad copy states:

The irony is that the product is a wallet.
The owner of this wallet will hold his/her money in this fabulous, handmade wallet with the Prada brand name on it -- but although he/she touts this brand proudly, no money actually went to it.
Instead it goes directly to the lovely maker of the wallet, me. Lia. Irony queen and brilliant anti-consumerism activist.

As an art project or an item for her own use, Lia's wallet would be protected as free expression.  When the wallet is offered for sale a consumer good, however, Lia's claim that she is engaging in protected parody is not as clear.  Prada does, after all, sell wallets, though not for USD $10.  Moreover, Prada is known for its use of unusual materials, including photoprinted fabric.  Are Lia's expressive intent and the handmade appearance of the wallet sufficient to protect her against claims of trademark infringement, given that she's selling her wallets online -- and offering custom versions as well?  Hopefully for Lia and her fellow DIY entrepreneurs, she won't have to find out.

Trademark lovers beware -- the recycling process may crush more than aluminum cans.

July 23, 2007

Welcome Morning Call Readers!

Thanks to fashionable reporter Kelly-Anne Suarez for exploring the counterfeit question in the wake of a Pennsylvania flea market bust -- during which the cops may have engaged in a bit of false representation of their own.  According to the article:

Sophia Petryszyn of Hopewell Junction, N.Y., was there last Sunday, when the undercover police made their move. She said she'd just asked a vendor if she could exchange a pair of leather sandals she'd purchased for her husband.

''And a cop turns around and says, 'If you want to get arrested for receiving stolen property,''' Petryszyn said. ''I was so scared, I just turned around. I didn't want them to take my bag away.''

She laughed and adjusted the fake, brown Coach purse slung over her shoulder. She'd bought it for $30 minutes before the raid.

What the police officer didn't tell the counterfeit customer is that in the U.S., unlike in France or Italy, neither buying nor possessing fake merchandise is a crime, even though selling it is.  And while the flea market vendors in question may have participated in the theft of "Coach" and other trademarks via unauthorized copying, the goods themselves were not stolen property in the legal or traditional sense. 

On the other hand, the logic of the cop's statement is clear.  If intellectual property is indeed "property," then it follows that taking it without permission should constitute "stealing."  The fact that the law differentiates between taking the trademark via copying and taking the handbag or other tangible object in which the trademark is embodied demonstrates the unique nature of intellectual property -- and the reason why some scholars still debate the utility of the term.

A nice conundrum for a Monday (and yes, those quotes are from your humble blogger). 

July 19, 2007

It's Not Easy Being Green

Eco-trendy shoppers in New York and surrounding states lined up in the rain outside Whole Foods stores yesterday for a chance to buy Anya Hindmarch's "I'm Not a Plastic Bag" bags (previously discussed here) -- and yes, carry them home in plastic bags. 

At the same time, the Times of London reports that shoppers in China, where authorities banned sales of the bags after several women in Hong Kong were trampled in the rush to buy them last week, were turning to a more immediate option -- counterfeits. 

Of course, there's a catch:  at the equivalent of £9, the fake bags are more expensive than the £5 originals. 

Anya Hindmarch original

Harry Potter and the Future Knockoffs?

Fakes and imitations, from toy wands to horcruxes to wizards drinking polyjuice potion, appear throughout the Harry Potter series.  How long, then, until the symbol below -- allegedly part of the widely leaked Book 7, but no spoilers here! -- shows up on fans' T-shirts? 

The idea may have already occurred to J.K. Rowling, who (again, reportedly) placed words of disapproval in international Quidditch champion Viktor Krum's mouth.  The character may or may not note, "Some idiots copied it [the symbol] onto their books and clothes, thinking to shock, make themselves impressive...."

Of course, authorized versions from the Potter retail empire may be another matter entirely. 

Thanks to A-Reader-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named for the tip.

July 18, 2007

Taking Sexy Back

Converse is no stranger to being copied, but this time the athletic shoe company is accused of walking all over someone else's rights instead. 

In a lawsuit filed on Monday, custom tattoo company Bloodrose claims that Converse infringed its copyrighted "Bishamonten Back" design (full version and detail, below),

 Bloodrose Bishamonten Back tattoo

by printing the one-of-a-kind design on a pair of its Chuck Taylor All-Star hi-tops.

Converse hi-tops 

The Bloodrose client/canvas is not identified in the complaint -- but it seems the jury is in for an eyefull. 

 

July 17, 2007

Knockoff News 65

A weekly (or thereabouts) collection of news about counterfeits, fakes, knockoffs, replicas, imitations, and the culture of copying in general around the globe:

One man's trash may be another's treasure -- but is the reverse true as well?  For those of you who secretly believe that contemporary art is garbage -- the 8,601 diamonds and 27 human teeth that Damien Hurst set into a lifesize platinum cast of a human skull notwithstanding -- here's one response:  

But wait!  Before you go dumpster diving for diamonds, read on:

July 16, 2007

Harry Potter and the Pill that Must Not Be Named

To get you through Monday -- and the final week before Harry Potter 7 is released -- here's an ecstasy tablet with the boy wizard's monogram, one of 400,000 pills allegedly smuggled into the U.S. from Europe.

 Harry Potter ecstasy tablet

So much for Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans -- it seems our hero is growing up.    

Lawyering Up Louboutin

Christian Louboutin's immortal soles have often been stolen by copyists -- but the shoe designer extraordinaire is finally preparing to save them.

The actual shoe designs are, of course, unprotected by U.S. law.  Louboutin's trade dress in the form of his signature red soles is another matter, however.  Counterfeit Chic has wondered -- repeatedly -- why the designer would risk allowing such an effective signature to become generic by failing to take legal action. 

It turns out that mere weeks after the first Counterfeit Chic comment on the subject, Louboutin's lawyers did indeed file an application with the U.S. Trademark Office.  And last week, the mark consisting of "a lacquered red sole on footwear" was published for opposition, meaning that "[a]ny person who believes he would be damaged by the registration" has 30 days to speak up.  Oh dear, Oh...Deer!

But this isn't the first time that Louboutin has tried to register his red soles.  Back in 2001, the company filed a similar application but abandoned it without completing the process for reasons that are not revealed by the incomplete online file.  One guess is that in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Wal-Mart v. Samara Brothers, 529 U.S. 205 (2000), Louboutin wasn't prepared to make the required showing of secondary meaning for his product configuration. 

This time around, however, the application was accompanied by the kind of information as often found in a press kit or magazine interview as in correspondence with the Trademark Office.  In Louboutin's words:

In 1992 I incorporated the red sole into the design of my shoes.  This happened by accident as I felt the shoes lacked energy so I applied red nail polish to the sole of a shoe.  This was such a success that it became a permanent fixture....  

The shiny red color of the soles has no function other than to identify to the public that the shoes are mine.  I selected the color red because it is engaging, flirtatious, memorable, and the color of passion.  It attracts men to the women who wear my shoes.... 

Actually, this sounds like it has the potential for a very interesting functionality debate indeed, given that functional matter cannot be registered as a trademark.  Perhaps competitors eager for a free ride are even now testing the heterosexual human male response to red bottoms.  Of shoes, that is. 

Overall, though, Louboutin presents strong evidence of the distinctiveness of his trade dress in the eyes of his well-heeled clientele -- which bodes well for his officially becoming its sole proprietor.

July 14, 2007

Club Thread

Less than a week after Rob Walker featured Threadless, the wiki of T-shirt companies, in his brilliant "Consumed" column, You Thought We Wouldn't Notice warns aspiring designers of a downside:  the online design submissions may be mined by copyists worldwide as a source of free graphics.  Below, the original T-shirt design (left) alongside a Viennese club flyer:

Threadless club mix

Urheberrechtsverletzung, anyone?

July 12, 2007

To Catch a Thief

Jewel thieves are the world's most stylish criminals -- and Mike & Maaike are perhaps the world's most stylish jewel thieves.  Together they've "stolen" the Hope Diamond, the Golden Jubilee, the Great Chrysanthmum, Daisy Fellowes' Cartier "Tutti Frutti" demiparure, and Imelda Marcos' Van Cleef & Arpels ruby necklace, among others. 

But don't panic and lock up your family heirlooms yet.  The artists' "Stolen Jewels" line is an exercise in transformation, not literal appropriation.  Or, in their words,

an exploration of of tangible vs. virtual in relation to real and perceived value.  using google image search, we browsed through some of the most expensive and often famous jewelry in the world, the low-res images we found were stolen, doctored, then transfered to leather, creating a tangible new incarnation.  with the expense and intricacy of the jewels stripped away, their essence and visual intensity are extracted.

While the Queen may not abandon her Crown Jewels, Mike & Maaike's results are quite striking (and presumably less expensive to insure):

Great Chrysanthemum Diamond

Hope Diamond

Surely a mere copy of an image of the Hope Diamond doesn't carry a deadly curse -- but might Mike & Maaike's project nevertheless involve legal liability?

Jewelry designs are, of course, subject to copyright.  The Hope and Great Chrysanthemum diamonds, however, are notable not for their settings' originality but for the size and value of the stones, so they would be unlikely to qualify for protection.  Moreover, the Hope Diamond's current setting is old enough that even had it once qualified for copyright protection, the design might now be in the public domain.  So far, Mike & Maaike are in the clear.

The photos of the originals, however, might be copyrighted -- in which case Mike & Maaike's efforts could be considered unauthorized derivative works.  As a practical matter, however, the pictures have been so altered that it's hard to tell which of many images of these famous gems the artists' might have used -- even with Google searches as a clue.  Moreover, "Stolen Jewels" hardly interferes with any potential market for the photos.  So Mike & Maaike, even with their online "confession," can probably rest easy. 

And the rest of us can enjoy their work, currently on view at the Velvet da Vinci Gallery in San Francisco. 

(Via Angela Gunn -- who offers some amusing speculation about potential knockoffs -- and Oh Gizmo!  And while we're at it, let's not forget the Trademark Blog's prediction that our future includes a "Napster for jewelry....")

July 11, 2007

Knockoff News 64

A weekly (or thereabouts) collection of news about counterfeits, fakes, knockoffs, replicas, imitations, and the culture of copying in general around the globe:

And for those of you wondering about the connection between counterfeits and terrorism, check this out:

Vuitton grenade at Squidsicle.com 

OK, Osama's pals aren't really lobbing "Vuitton" grenades, but perhaps Anko (the artist) is -- metaphorically, anyway. 

Saints and Sinners

Claire V Josephine bag USD $95Laura Bradford isn't just aiming for fashionable fame and fortune -- she's on a stylish trajectory to sainthood.  Her line of handbags, Claire V., was conceived on a trip to Cambodia as a way of aiding its impoverished people, and the bags are crafted by survivors of land mine injuries.  More recently, Claire V. has begun a collaboration with widows in Afghanistan to showcase their skilled embroidery.  And on top of all that, 10% of sales go to education and health programs for women and children in Asia. 

The silk bags, which sell for $100 or less, have developed quite a following.  The Josephine, pictured, has appeared on Desperate Housewives -- and among the collections of design pirates as well.  As a local station reported:

Soon after Roanoke based Claire V opened, Laura Bradford answered a call from a friend who'd seen knockoffs of her popular handbags in a national catalog. 

"And there are a lot of bags that make it out onto the street before we ever see a sample of it," says Bradford. 

Since only those Claire V. bags with surface designs (like the Josephine) are eligible for copyrght protection, most of the line is fair game for copyists under U.S. law.  Bradford notes that she "could be out of business if someone copies [her] line within a month or two, and not be able to do anything about it."

But fear not.  Claire V. is based in Roanoke, Virginia, part of the congressional district of Representative Bob Goodlatte, who last year and again in the new Congress introduced a bill that would extend short-term intellectual property protection to fashion designs, including handbags. 

In other words, the Design Piracy Prohibition Act (currently H.R. 2033) may not yet be law -- but knocking off a Roanoake designer is like bearding the lion in his den. 

July 10, 2007

Don't Be a Knock-Off Nigel

Is laughter a useful counterpart to law in effecting social change?  The UK Industry Trust for Intellectual Property Awareness thinks so -- and has created a hapless character named "Knock-off Nigel" to be the butt of its campaign. 

Here's one fairly traditional public service announcement (all fun & games 'til the lesson at the end)featuring the "shabby, pub-going rogue" and the sale of fake DVDs: 

And a more lighthearted musical interlude at the pub, in which an abashed Nigel is accused of everything from buying knockoff DVDs to giving his girlfriend a watch he found on the street.  Apparently Nigel is not just fond of fakes but a real cheapskate, the kind who never buys a round of drinks, etc. 

With Nigel-related quips on everything from commercials to beer coasters, the Industry Trust is hoping that he will become a stock character and that social stigma will attach to his piracy-promoting activities.  Of course, not everyone approves.

UPDATE: And still more from Madisonian.

July 09, 2007

Of Credit Cards and Counterfeits

Landlords, distributors of electronic file sharing systems, and even creators of search engines may be liable for contributory infringement of protected works -- but credit card companies are in the clear, according to a decision last week by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 

Perfect 10, Inc. v. Visa Int'l Service Ass'n., an opinion particularly concerned with the potential effects of a contrary ruling on e-commerce, upheld the district court's dismissal of a complaint alleging contributory and vicarious liability in both copyright and trademark, as well as California statutory and common law violations.  The 9th Circuit was at some pains to distinguish its recent decision in Perfect 10, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc. and to explain why helping consumers find infringing material online may be problematic but helping consumers buy the same material isn't.  Ultimately, the majority was persuaded by the argument that payment services do not materially contribute to infringement itself in the form of reproduction, alteration, display, or distribution; they merely make infringement more profitable. 

Judge Alex Kozinski, however, was having none of it.  In his dissent, he argued inter alia that credit card services "knowingly provide a financial bridge between buyers and sellers of pirated works, enabling them to consummate infringing transactions, while making a profit on every sale.  If such active participation in infringing conduct does not amount to indirect infringement, it's hard to imagine what would." 

Kozinski also noted that credit card companies have mechanisms in place to oversee merchants, "which is why we don't see credit card sales of illegal drugs or child pornography."  Of course, the real reason that consumers don't whip out the Visa to buy street drugs or kiddie porn is that possessing these items is illegal, and paying with plastic leaves a trail.  Consumers who knowingly purchase infringing copies of legal items -- whether pirated versions of porn by Perfect 10 or replica Rolexes -- may reasonably be concerned about privacy, but not about their own legal liability. 

Despite the dissent's reasoning, Perfect 10 has been denied a happy ending for now.  So, too, for that matter are you, dear readers -- I'm so not linking to a porn site.  Especially after Counterfeit Chic was recently cloned by a different, presumably unrelated porn site for nefarious purposes, much to my chagrin.  But that's a war story for another day. 

P.S.  For additional analysis, check out Likelihood of Confusion and 43(B)log

UPDATES:  The 9th Circuit issued an amended opinion in Perfect 10 v. Amazon.  In addition, the Supreme Court is considering a cert petition in Perfect 10 v. Visa. 

July 06, 2007

Macy's meets MTV

Around the same time that Macy's was exploding Fourth of July fireworks over New York's East River, MTV designer Rich Browd was exploding at Macy's. 

The reason?  According to an email forwarded to Counterfeit Chic, Macy's lifted a T-shirt design for the MTV Store and "plastered it all over handbags in its flagship location," Herald Square, New York. 

The good news for MTV is that while neither typefaces nor short phrases are subject to copyright protection, graphic designs are -- and the substitution of "Macy's" for "MTV" is hardly convincing evidence of original design.  And while as an employee Browd probably doesn't hold the copyright himself, when MTV's lawyers get hold of this photo, the real fireworks should begin.

Many thanks to my creative Fordham law student Kevin Bodenheimer for the tip!

Knockoff News 63

A weekly (or thereabouts) collection of news about counterfeits, fakes, knockoffs, replicas, imitations, and the culture of copying in general around the globe:

And for progressive parents concerned about the effects of your young daughters' exposure to Barbie but still in thrall to pink, your worries are over!  For what harm could come from being a Benign Girl?  Thanks to Esther17 for posting on Flickr!

 Barbie knockoff Benign Girl

July 04, 2007

Piracy by Prada?!

Miuccia Prada, as one of fashion's most innovative designers, is no stranger to being copied.  Recently, however, it seems that she's turned the tables and is doing a bit of copying of her own -- or at least a member of her accessories team is.  Check out these shoes from Prada's Miu Miu line:

Miu Miu does Louboutin - $395

Not only does the style recall the patent leather, peeptoe pump that the brilliant shoe designer Christian Louboutin elevated to fashion ubiquity over the last few seasons (see both platform and standard versions below), but Miu Miu has imitated the red Louboutin sole as well.  While the general style concept is not original to Louboutin, the fashion flock has come to expect a bit more forward thinking from Prada and its progeny.  Copying Louboutin's signature red sole, moreover, is asking for trade dress trouble.  

Louboutins - $710 and $560, respectively

In an unusual twist, all three versions are simultaneously available at Bergdorf's

July 02, 2007

Creators v. Consumers

From Rob Walker, the gifted journalist and consumer guru who called attention to Prestigious' "Stop Rockin' Fake Shit" T-shirts, comes notice of a new blog, StartRockintheFakeSht.  As the name implies, the anonymous authors both support knockoffs and call into question the value of authentic merchandise -- and some seem angrier than others. 

But why such polarized views on rockin' fake shit?

It's all a matter of perspective.  First consider creation.  An aspiring creator who manages to sell a painting, a story, or a dress can't necessarily afford to be copied by a commercial venture that recognizes the value of the work and can engage in cheap mass production-- but doesn't want to pay the creator.  Even established creators may suffer from the presence of a large quantity of knockoffs in the market, since they dilute the value and perceived quality of originals.  "Fake shit" thus harms creators, especially if not enough consumers insist on having an original, authentic work. 

Now consider consumption.  An aspirational consumer who wants a design wants it NOW -- and doesn't necessarily want to pay the creator's price or accept the concept of limited production.  Such desire may be cast in anti-elitist or faux populist terms, but at base it is not about basic life needs (even, in most cases, information); it is about individual aesthetic gratification.  Such a consumer will envy wealthier or better connected consumers who do have access the item, especially if it is an obviously expensive "status good."  (It is, however, inaccurate to cast all targeted originals as extremely expensive; both creativity and copying occur at all price points.)  From the perspective of the covetous consumer, then, "fake shit" offers instant gratification and mocks both consumers and creators of genuine goods.

Intellectual property law intends to benefit both creators and consumers -- by focusing its protections on creators.  Ask any U.S. IP student about the purpose of the system, and you'll (hopefully!) be reminded of the Article 1, section 8, clause 8 of the Constitution, which empowers Congress:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries....

The immediate benefit is to creators, to "Authors and Inventors."  The collective benefit is to society at large, which gains from "the Progress of Science and useful Arts" and from having creators with the opportunity develop their skills.  The eventual benefit is to individual consumers, not because they can immediately rock fake shit, but because more creativity means more choices overall in the long run. 

We are all consumers.  And virtually all of us (Mother Theresa or the Dalai Lama aside) have been covetous consumers at some point or other, whether or not our desires would have been satisfied by knockoffs.

In modern industrialized economies and in the internet era, more and more of us are also creators.  We are no longer dependent on agriculture or manufacturing to support the economy; we rely instead on industries that generate intellectual property.  Moreover, while a creative class still supplies us with music, movies, literature, and other artistic diversions, there's also YouTube, MySpace, and Second Life.  Both in our work lives and in our private lives, creative endeavor is not specialized but universal. 

And if we are all creators, then the debate over whether to stop or to start rockin' fake shit takes on a whole new dimension.