Coach Files Suit Against Boardwalk Stores

OCEAN CITY – Several
Boardwalk merchants were named as defendants in a multi-million civil suit
filed on Monday in U.S. District Court by the maker of high-end luxury handbags
for selling counterfeit merchandise earlier this summer.

Coach, Inc. and Coach
Services, Inc. on Monday filed suits in U.S. District Court against a dozen
individual Boardwalk stores along with an unknown collection of defendants,
referred to only as “Does 1-100,” or individuals or corporate entities whose
identities are not yet known, for allegedly marketing and selling counterfeit
knock-offs of the company’s famous, and expensive for that matter, handbags,
dresses, accessories and other goods.

The suits seek $2 million
in damages from each of the 13 defendants, or a total of roughly $26 million.
The suits also seek an injunction against the listed defendants requiring the
immediate removal of the counterfeit merchandise from their shelves.

The suits were filed this
week after a Coach investigator entered several Boardwalk stores on June 19 and
allegedly found the counterfeit goods displayed prominently and offered for
sale. In one example, the Coach investigator entered the Maytalk store on the
Boardwalk and allegedly observed 21 counterfeit Coach products in plain view
that were offered for sale. In that example, the investigator was able to
purchase a knock-off Coach handbag for $75, a product typically sold by the
company for as much as $300.

In another example cited,
the Coach investigator entered the Beachbreak store on the Boardwalk and
allegedly observed 20 counterfeit products on display and was able to purchase
a Coach handbag for $60. In that case, the store clerk at least advised the
undercover detective the handbag was not real, according to the complaint filed
on Monday.

All in all, the
investigator entered 12 Boardwalk stores and reported similar outcomes,
according to the suit. The other defendants, in no particular order, include
Hot Topik, Ocean Reef, Summer Breeze, Surf Beachwear, The Fashion Shop, Ocean
Waves, Sunset Beachwear, Oceanfashion Boutique, New York New York, and the
Jewel of the Ocean.

In addition, the suits
list as defendants Does 1-100, individuals or corporate entities not yet known
who are believed to be in some manner responsible for the wrongdoings laid out
in the complaint. The suit will be amended when those defendants true
identities and capacities are ascertained.

According to the
multiple complaints, the various defendants knowingly offered for sale the
counterfeit Coach merchandise at the expense of the company and the public.

“The defendants have
been engaging in the illegal counterfeiting and infringing activities knowingly
and intentionally, with reckless disregard or willful blindness to Coach’s
rights, or with bad faith, for the purpose of trading on the goodwill and
reputation of the Coach marks,” the complaint reads. “The defendants activities
are likely to create a false impression and deceive consumers, the public and the
trade into believing that there is a connection or association between the
infringing products and Coach.”

According to the
complaints, the defendants are attempting to take advantage of Coach’s
decades-long reputation in the alleged marketing and sale of the phony goods.

“Coach has expended
substantial time, money and other resources in developing, advertising and
otherwise promoting the Coach marks,” the complaint reads. “As a result,
products bearing the Coach marks are widely recognized and exclusively
associated by consumers, the public and the trade as being high quality
products sourced from Coach and have acquired strong secondary meaning. “The
defendants are well aware of the extraordinary fame and strength of the Coach
brand and the incalculable goodwill associated therewith.”