While leftover snow still blankets the streetcorners where fakes are often found, e-commerce sites -- and their e-counterfeit counterparts -- just glow on. Recent announcements by brand protection firm MarkMonitor and fashion house Louis Vuitton, however, may mean lights out for many online sources of fake merchandise.Search and Destroy
MarkMonitor's new "Site Staydown Service"
targets the myriad of websites that pop up in a search for any popular brand, many offering fakes. For consumers, the proliferation of these sites means a lot of extra clicking -- and constant questions about whether a particular site is offering legitimate discounted merchandise or cheap knockoffs. MarkMonitor's goal on behalf of clients like True Religion jeans is to get fake-selling sites down and keep 'em down, presumably with the cooperation of internet service providers who could face liability for continuing to provide a platform for known counterfeit sales. True Religion's own website
, unusually transparent when it comes to acknowledging the counterfeit conundrum, has an impressive list of nearly 200 suspect e-commerce sites that are "under investigation."
Destroy the Search
One of the easiest ways to spot a fake is a misspelled brand name. Chanel doesn't sell "Channel," Prada doesn't sell "Prado," and genuine Dolce & Gabbana always has 2 b's and one n.
Thus when Louis Vuitton (yes, 2 t's) learned that eBay was paying search engines to call up links to eBay's site in response to searches for terms like "Louis Viton" or "Wuiton," the luxury label expressed concern that the online marketplace was encouraging the sale of fakes and harming LV's reputation. Last week a French court agreed
and, in the latest of a series of judgments against eBay France, ordered the company to pay 200,000 euros in damages plus 30,000 euros in attorneys' fees and 1,000 euros for each future violation. (In U.S. dollars, the 200,000 euros is approximately $275,000, or almost $23,000 for each letter in Louis Vuitton.)
Of course, legitimate but orthographically challenged sellers and buyers will have to step up their spelling skills. (True confession: Mine are mediocre, but I blame it on the parochial school teacher who used to bang our little heads against the blackboard when we got our spelling words wrong. Thank goodness for spell checkers!) Then again, training for the fashion spelling bee will keep you from bragging about the great deal you got on your new "Vuiton."
Or sending a friend a link to Counterfit Chick.
Thanks to all those who sent tips, including Melissa Astudillo, Jennifer Huang, and Counterfeit Chic's favorite anonymous French correspondent!