What’s Mine is [NOT] Yours

Written By Jennifer Williams

Reviewed By Cynthia Amis

Fashion is a tricky thing to define, mainly because it means something different to everyone. It can mean simply what you wear from point A to point B or it can mean what a person uses to transform and express themselves through the art of clothing and accessories. For Tory Burch it partially means $164 million after winning a lawsuit to protect her fashion designs. In December of 2010, fashion designer Tory Burch filed a cybersquatting lawsuit against countless websites carrying the designers name and trademark. These websites were carrying and selling fake Tory Burch branded products, ranging from ballet flats to handbags and accessories.

To fully understand the lawsuit, it must first be understood what cybersquatting is. Generally defined, cybersquatting is registering, selling, or using a domain name containing a trademark that the registrant does not have the rights to. As the Internet becomes more and more prevalent in our daily lives, it is no surprise that cybersquatting has become more of a problem.

Victims of cybersquatting can seek the rights to the domain as well as money damages if they so choose and in Tory Burch’s case, she went for the jugular. Judge Batts held each defendant liable for $4 million in damages to total $164 million, the largest sum of damages awarded within the fashion industry. The $4 million figure for each defendant includes; $2 million for willful trademark counterfeiting of the Tory Burch logo plus $2 million for willful trademark counterfeiting of the ‘Tory Burch’ name. On top of the money damages, Judge Batts also ordered that 232 domain names, which were selling counterfeited Tory Burch products, be disabled and handed over to Tory Burch.

This verdict is a huge victory for Tory Burch and shows support for all of the hard work that she has put into her designs. It also shows the severe ramifications that cybersqauters may face when infringing on trademarks by selling counterfeit products. On a larger scale, there is a victory in this for the fashion world as it is the second most recent case to grant damages against defendants selling counterfeit goods. These two cases set a promising precedent for companies who believe that their trademarks are being infringed by cybersquatting. It does not seem too far-fetched that many companies will be following suit to protect their precious designs.

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