High Quality Fakes With Real Price Tags
By Alison Parker
Reviewed by Jennifer Williams
Some consumers may be shocked to learn that just because he or she paid top dollar for a “designer item” from a locally owned store doesn’t necessarily ensure that what he or she bought was the real thing. But if the item came with an identifying serial number and authenticity guarantee then you can rest assured, right? Wrong. Designer fakes are looking better than ever these days, so much so that even retailers have a tough time spotting fakes. A recent example, New Jersey-based jeweler, Daniel Markus, Inc., highlights this problem. The high-end shop unknowingly sold fake Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels pieces at their market value prices in their store as well as on eBay–one fake piece even sold for $30,000!
But Daniel Risis, the owner of Daniel Markus, Inc., believed that the pieces, supplied by Concept Designs Unlimited, were authentic. As reported by Fashionably Just, even Richemont, the owner of Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, assumed that the pieces were real but figured that they were stolen, judging from their price tags and serial numbers; but inspection of each serial number proved the pieces to be phonies. Richemont sued CDU back in March and CDU owner Zura Kazhiloti answered by denying some of the allegations and invoking his 5th amendment right against self-incrimination to other allegations. But Richemont filed an amended complaint in May 2011 alleging counterfeiting, trademark infringement, unfair competition and false advertising, which CDU failed to answer. After CDU failed to respond to the complaint, New Jersey District Judge Jose Linares entered a default judgment against it; ordering CDU to stop infringing Richemont’s trademarks and a $37.4 million judgment against them. The court also granted an injunction against CDU, ordering it to stop selling anymore goods and also froze its bank accounts.
The ruling is certainly a victory for Richemont; but the issue of pricey fakes understandably leaves consumers a bit worrisome. It used to be that if the price seemed too good to be true, it was. But now, since counterfeiters have upped their game and price tags so that even professionals have trouble distinguishing the reals from the fakes, what is a consumer to do? The most obvious answer is to only buy designer goods from an authorized dealer or from one of the designers flagship stores. The truth of it is, if you buy anywhere else, you are running the risk that what you buy is a fake, no matter how it looks or how much it costs.