Coach Wins $5M Lawsuit Against Flea Market Owner
Here is yet another lawsuit regarding trademark infringement. This one involves Coach, the luxury leather goods company, and Frederick Goodfellow, a Memphis flea market owner.
Coach brought suit against the owner of the Southwest Flea Market in 2010 when the luxury brand learned of the sale of fake bags and other accessories bearing its trademark and informed Goodfellow, via a letter, about the activity at the market. Later, law enforcement officials raided the flea market and seized the fake goods.
According to court documents, Goodfellow claimed he informed the flea market vendors that the sale of counterfeit items is prohibited. However, vendors continued to sell the fake bags.
A jury has awarded Coach $5 million in damages along with more than $186,000 in attorney fees and litigation costs after finding that Goodfellow infringed upon the company’s intellectual property. Goodfellow appealed, but an appeals court upheld the ruling earlier this month.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that Goodfellow knew, or should have known, that vendors were selling fake Coach handbags at the flea market and put an immediate stop to it.
In 2011 the Southwest Flea Market was shut down by federal authorities.
Late last year, Coach also sued Londonderry Marketplace owner, Peter Sapatis, for more than $15 million in U.S. District Court. In its suit, Coach states that investigators were sent to the Londonderry, NH based flea market in June 2011 and “observed approximately 30 different vendors” selling “the infringed products.”
Andrew Cernota, a member of the Maine Cernota & Rardin firm in Nashua said the following:
“If you think of how important a brand name is to a company like Coach, I mean, a lot of the value associated with the product is based on its brand name, so you can expect them to be fairly aggressive in protecting it, and in fact, that’s due to the trademark ownership.”
So make sure you have a trademark attorney on your team before you do anything else!
Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward sharing smart ways to protect what’s yours. Join the conversation on my Facebook Fan page, Twitter, or in one of my LinkedIn discussion groups.
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