Litigation as a weapon against California copyright infringers

Counterfeiters who steal products or designs from Los Angeles businesses take more than revenue — they dilute company brands. Copyright and trademark infringers also oblige many businesses to remain in a perpetual defensive position.

Money used to protect intellectual property is an expense that fortifies but does not expand a company. Limited budgets prevent new entrepreneurs from shielding the uniqueness of their products. Startups easily fold without funds to safeguard merchandise.

Some established companies like fashion house Tory Burch use a no-holds-barred approach to thwart thieves. The business’s legal team said during the past year it helped close down 1,200 online sites selling copycat Tony Burch products. Authorities also confiscated half a million counterfeit items.

The company launched a furious string of legal actions. A trademark lawsuit was filed in March against two individuals followed recently by a claim against four wholesalers, who allegedly pilfered Tony Burch designs and logo.

The aggressive intellectual property position paid off in April when Tony Burch won a $20 million award in federal court. The bank accounts and domain names of a group of infringers became the fashion company’s property. Similar Tony Burch cases in the last two years led to damage awards exceeding $164 million.

Tony Burch officials believe forceful litigation puts wrongdoers out of business and deters other counterfeiters from trying to make profits off the company.

Successful copyright and trademark protection starts with knowing the limits and depths of intellectual property laws. Businesses must be able to differentiate between marketed products that are obvious duplicates and acceptable merchandise with “inspired” designs.

Originality overlaps with common-ground elements of design. For example, jewelry designers work with a limited number of shapes to create rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets. The shapes can’t be copyrighted, but the way designers incorporate them into jewelry can be.

Intellectual property attorneys can explain how laws are fine-tuned to individual products and services.

Source:  securingindustry.com, “Fashion brand Tory Burch files four lawsuits” No Author Given, Jun. 03, 2013