In the first reported case of counterfeit goods uncovered in the upmarket Raffles City Shopping Centre, a retailer has been ordered to pay $35,000 in damages to Louis Vuitton Malletier, commonly known as Louis Vuitton (LV).
Cuffz (Singapore), which deals in costume jewellery, was found to have carried three wallets bearing a surface similar to LV's Epi line of wallets but with the Cuffz brand logo on them. The Cuffz items sold at $75.90 each, versus $872.50 for the original LV products.
The items, which infringed LV's registered Epi trademark, were uncovered in January last year when a private investigator bought a piece in a "test purchase" and observed two more on display.
Registered in 1999, the Epi mark is characterised by interleaving ridges and valleys applied to the whole or predominant area of the product's surface.
Cuffz, which shut down its Raffles City outlet in May last year, did not show up when the assessment of damages hearing was held in May.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
(Cuffz) was a commercial competitor of the plaintiff who flagrantly dealt in counterfeit goods bearing the plaintiff's Epi mark and who then demonstrated a contumelious disregard of the plaintiff's intellectual property rights as well as the legal process.
ASSISTANT REGISTRAR EDWIN SAN
LV lawyers Antony Soh, Regina Quek and Shawn Poon urged the court to impose the maximum $100,000 payable under the Trade Marks Act, pointing to Cuffz's failure to disclose the source of the lookalikes when ordered to do so.
Assistant Registrar Edwin San, in judgment grounds released earlier this week, criticised Cuffz for its flagrant infringement of the Epi mark, noting that the culprit was "marketing its 'Cuffz' brand as one which conveys a sense of sophistication and elegance".
The Cuffz brand logo on the seized goods was "calculated to enable it to gain brand prestige through association with (LV)'s Epi mark," he added.
The court heard that LV, named the world's most valuable luxury brand by global brands and communications firm Millward Brown, had a brand value of about US$25.87 billion (S$35.3 billion) last year.