Wednesday, June 8th is Anti-Counterfeiting Day. Do your part to help create US legislation to end dress counterfeiting by spreading the word and signing this very important petition:
How You Can Help:
Send targeted email blasts
Social media posts (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
Educate others about Anti-Counterfeiting Day and provide them with a link to the petition: https://wh.gov/is6cE.
In order to get an official update from the White House, a total of 100,000 Signatures in 30 Days is required! Spread the word today.
The American Bridal and Prom Industry Association Continues to Gain Backing from the U.S. Government
U.S. Senator Robert Menendez has created an essential provision to the Trade Facilitation Act of 2015 to help prevent counterfeit goods from arriving at America’s doorstep. The letter below from Menendez to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection highlights this effort as well as the effect fraudulent goods has had on America’s consumers, fashion designers and businesses.
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Click above to watch Senator Menendez Speak About Customs Enforcement at Finance Meeting
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), in conjunction with Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) was able to include in the final report language in the recent customs reauthorization legislation that the United States Senate Finance Committee marked up. The Committee will need a couple of weeks to publish the final report. This is a first, but significant step forward because the report directs Department of Homeland Security to focus on the mislabeling of imports as gifts. Now the entire Senate Finance Committee in a bipartisan manner, is on record regarding this important issue. This action should help motivate Customs and Border Patrol to potentially increase enforcement. This is a positive development, but still the beginning of our long journey.
Below is a colloquy between Senator Menendez and Chairman Hatch. The Chairman and his staff share our opinion and this issue and was glad to work with our organization on moving it forward.
Section 305(a)(8): In developing and implementing the risk-based alert system to improve the targeting of persons that repeatedly infringe intellectual property rights, the Secretary of Homeland Security should FOCUS ON the propensity to commit violations of other U.S. customs and trade laws, including the evasion of duties, taxes, and fees, ESPECIALLY BY THE MISCATEGORIZATION OF COMMERCIAL MERCHANDISE LABELED AS GIFTS.
Big Win in Court for ABPIA
On February 10, 2014, The American Bridal and Prom Industry Association was granted a huge milestone in its fight against counterfeit merchants by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. Over the past several months, the ABPIA has filed multiple lawsuits against the owners of approximately 1,100 websites seeking damages and asking the Court to restrain those website owners from marketing and selling counterfeit dresses and formal wear. The Courts sided with the ABPIA and entered several preliminary injuctions against the counterfeit retailers, ordering all funds in defendants’ merchant accounts be froze on sites such as PayPal, and directing the registrars of the website domains to disable and lock it down until further notice.
Craig Hilliard, attorney for ABPIA, explains “ The Court’s Preliminary Injunction Order in each of these lawsuits is broad, and in addition to enjoining the website owners from selling counterfeit formalwear, each Order also: 1) freezes any merchant accounts of the websites maintained by third-party payment providers such as PayPal; and 2) directs the registrars of the domains to disable them and render them untransferable until the further Order of the Court. The PayPal and other accounts will remain frozen until the further directive of the Court. To date, none of the defendants named in any of these additional lawsuits has filed any response or otherwise opposed the relief sought by ABPIA.”
While this ruling will essentially shut-down the 1,100 websites named in the lawsuits, the ABPIA has just scratched the surface. Steve Lang, ABPIA president and CEO of Mon Cheri Bridals, LLC stated in a written release, “This is by no means the end of the road. In fact, it is only a beginning. ABPIA’s investigation has uncovered thousands of additional websites which are marketing and selling knockoff goods, and ABPIA will be filing additional lawsuits in the coming weeks to continue the fight against counterfeits.”
In addition to the lawsuits filed, the organization’s anti-counterfeiting efforts also include pursuing the cooperation of internet search engines, including Google. The ABPIA counsel is currently in dialogue with Google, Inc. to persuade the internet service provider to prohibit illegitimate merchants from using Google’s Sponsored Ads, Sponsored Images, and AdWords to generate traffic to websites using the protected trademarks and images of ABPIA members.
Members of the formalwear industry are urged to continue to support the efforts of the ABPIA in achieving its principal objectives:
1) to take any and all appropriate and lawful action against the marketing and sale of counterfeit formalwear products;
2) to educate consumers, retailers and members of the formal industry and the general public about the harm to consumers and fair competition in the formalwear industry caused by the marketing and sale of counterfeit products; and
3) to lobby governmental entities to aid the formalwear industry in the fight against the marketing and sale of counterfeit products.
Members of the industry can join the effort by contacting the ABPIA via its website, or by contacting Stephen Lang, ABPIA President and CEO of member company, Mon Cheri Bridals, LLC at email@example.com.
Dear Mon Cheri Retailer, Partner and Industry Friend and Associate,
It is with great pleasure to report to you today as President of the American Bridal and Prom Industry Association (ABPIA) our progress fighting counterfeiters from China.
At the end of 2012, the ABPIA filed a lawsuit against 45 of the most egregious websites shipping counterfeit merchandise to North America and the rest of the world. The court granted us a temporary restraining order, also referred to as TRO. We returned to court in New Jersey on January 7, 2013 and appeared before the Honorable Judge Wolfson, Chief Magistrate of the Federal Court.
At this hearing, we presented original and counterfeit merchandise from multiple manufacturers and highlighted the damage done to our industry from these offshore pirates. We explained to the judge that approximately 500,000 to 600,000 counterfeit units entered North America in 2012, representing approximately $300 million in lost retail sales. This translates to approximately 100 to 150 units per full-service bridal and social occasion store in the United States.
Within a half hour of testimony, the judge immediately grasped the danger to our industry and ordered the following:
• The granting of a Formal Injunction against the defendant websites to immediately cease and desist from their illegal cyber- squatting activity. Our counsel prepared the paperwork and the order was signed the next day on January 8, 2013.
• For counsel to additionally serve the injunction on all members of the supply chain that aid and abet the counterfeiters. This includes website providers and hosts such as VeriSign, Go-Daddy and other such entities, search engines such as Google, financial entities transferring funds offshore such as PayPal, American Express, MasterCard, Visa, Discover, etc., freight entities transporting goods such as FedEx, UPS, DHL, and any other entity within the supply chain that helps the counterfeiters.
• For counsel to immediately add additional websites as defendants without having to file formal motions to amend the complaint. We have a list of approximately 2,500 additional websites that will be added to the injunction as defendants this week.
• For counsel to instruct all entities conducting business with the counterfeiters to reveal the exact name of the owners of the website, their locations and any other information we feel pertinent in eradicating this threat to the industry. This will aid us in securing damages, shutting down the websites and aiding the court and government agencies to enforce rulings.
• To immediately inform United States Customs and Homeland Security of the injunction to secure maximum help from these institutions to seize illegal websites and counterfeit merchandise.
The judge was clear in her instruction that should any entity fail to comply with the order, she is fully prepared to take additional action. This could include forcing any of these organizations to appear before her in court for rulings, especially if she feels they are in contempt of court.
Judge Wolfson was also clear that the economic damage to the industry is so difficult to calculate that she would place it in the category of “irreparable harm”. The significance of this category is that we could potentially go after large damages from any of the entities should they fail to comply.
It is my great pleasure to report that PayPal has begun to seize funds originally slated to be sent offshore and that we already received notifications of websites that are being shut down by web hosts following instructions of the court order. We expect many more websites to be shuttered over the coming weeks and will remain vigilant in this effort as we add an additional 2,500 counterfeiters to the injunction.
Thus far, the ABPIA is comprised of approximately 400 members including manufacturers, retailers, sales representatives, apparel marts, media resources and other interested constituents of our industry. If you have not yet joined the ABPIA, we respectfully feel it is your responsibility to stand up and be counted. Join us in the fight to save our industry from this horrible scourge. We created ABPIA as a nonprofit 501(c) 6 organization, which allows us to lobby in Washington, D.C. and with other government entities. We plan to visit senators and congressmen to secure federal legislation that would give us even greater leverage against these counterfeiters.
It goes without saying that this grand endeavor takes time and money. I have personally dedicated the last year and a half of my life to working on this project, basically turning my company over to be run by my wonderful employees. However, I cannot do this alone and need your help. Attached is an application to join the organization. As you can see, it is only $100 annually for retailers. If we save you just one lost sale, your investment is more than secure. We also have other plans for the ABPIA including securing affordable health care coverage and already have a consultant working on this project.
Please stand up and be counted. Join the ABPIA today.
Stephen Lang, President of ABPIA and CEO of Mon Cheri, LLC