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Chanel Wins Trademark Battle Against What Goes Around Comes Around

Chanel, the luxury fashion brand, has been involved in various trademark cases over the years to protect its brand identity and prevent infringement.

In one of the most recent cases, Chanel, Inc. v. What Goes Around Comes Around, LLC, et al., 1:18-cv-02253 (S.D.N.Y.), Chanel filed a lawsuit against What Goes Around Comes Around (WGACA), a vintage clothing retailer, for allegedly selling counterfeit Chanel products. Chanel claimed that WGACA was selling second-hand Chanel items without authorization and that some of these items were counterfeit. The lawsuit accused WGACA of trademark infringement, false advertising, and unfair competition.

The case garnered significant attention because it involved the intersection of intellectual property rights and the booming market for vintage luxury goods.

The outcome:  A tentative win for Chanel in the years-long battle, as a New York federal jury agreed with Chanel on all four causes of action in February 2024.  A special note is that the jury found that hashtags using the Chanel mark led to unfair competition.  Chanel was awarded $4 million in statutory damages for the claim of trademark infringement.

Although Chanel is pleased with this outcome, WGACA is extremely disappointed.  WGACA has maintained its stance that it never sold counterfeit products and has a 100% authenticity guarantee.  WGACA is said to be exploring all legal options.

This case highlights Chanel’s commitment to protecting its brand image and the value it places on its trademarks. Like many other luxury brands, Chanel actively monitors the market for potential trademark infringement and takes legal action when necessary to safeguard its intellectual property rights.

What does this mean for other resellers?  It still seems gray as far as the extent of use.  Where is the line drawn?  Marketing any product using a product’s brand identity may be a rough road based on this outcome, and resellers need to be aware that fair use as defense isn’t going to cut it.

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