Coach files federal lawsuit over sale of counterfeit products; alleges copyright infringement

By Jon Campisi | Aug 19, 2011

Coach, Inc., the well-known and highly regarded handbag manufacturer, has filed a civil complaint in federal court in Philadelphia against an area business owner, alleging the entrepreneur is selling counterfeit products with the Coach label at her store.

Philadelphia attorneys John C. McMeekin II and Meredith A. Mack filed the copyright infringement lawsuit Aug. 16 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Coach, Inc. and Coach Services, Inc.

The defendants named in the lawsuit are Bristol, Pa. resident Veronica Beaule, and her business, Veronica’s Pocket Book and Beauty Supply, located at 7608 Bristol Pike in Levittown, Pa.

According to the federal complaint, Coach began an undercover investigation at Veronica’s Pocket Book and Beauty Supply in April of this year after learning of alleged illegal sales of counterfeit Coach merchandise at the place of business.

During one observation in late April, an investigator noticed a display of about 55 to 75 handbags and/or purses up for sale with prices ranging from $49.99 to $69.99 bearing Coach marks and trademarks of other brands.

Beaule told the undercover investigators that her products were “samples” direct from Europe, and that she received shipments every two weeks.

Later in the month, investigators returned with two federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to serve a cease and desist letter to Beaule for the sale of the alleged counterfeit merchandise, the lawsuit states. At the time of the visit, the agents, too, observed the display area containing counterfeit Coach handbags and other products by other brand name manufacturers.

During this time, the suit states, Beaule signed the cease and desist letter and turned over four counterfeit Coach handbags, five counterfeit Coach hats, four counterfeit Coach wallets and three counterfeit Coach scarves.

“Upon information and belief, Defendants have marketed and/or continue to market the sale of counterfeit Coach merchandise without the authority or consent of Coach and in violation of Coach’s intellectual property rights, and with the direct assistance, approval, and/or negligent consent of Veronica’s and Ms. Beaule,” the lawsuit states. “The sale of counterfeit Coach merchandise injures not only the rights of Coach, but the rights of the consuming public.”

The lawsuit contains counts of trademark counterfeiting, trademark infringement, trade dress infringement, false designation of origin and false advertising, trademark dilution, copyright infringement, common law trademark infringement, common law unfair competition, unauthorized use of name or likeness and unjust enrichment.

Coach seeks an immediate injunction barring the defendant from selling counterfeit products bearing the Coach trademark, statutory damages of $2 million per counterfeit mark per type of infringing products in accordance with the Lanham Act, unspecified punitive damages and attorney’s fees and other court related costs.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-05195-JHS.

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