The fashion titans have teamed up to file a federal lawsuit naming more than 130 China-based Websites that are allegedly using up to 6,500 domain names in a massive counterfeit case, reports WWD.
Along with breaking legal records for being the largest counterfeit case in the books, the fearsome duo allege that the sites and domain names are actually a network that can be mostly traced back to one Website, B2BSharing.com.
According to the complaint, this online ring sells large numbers of counterfeits (as much as $780,000 a month) to U.S. customers by using English-language sites such as polo4sale.com and outletnorthface.com, says WWD.
Polo Ralph Lauren and The North Face's legal team wrote that the counterfeit ring is "of a size and scale they have not seen before."
All of which makes the counterfeit case not your usual cat-and-mouse situation.
"To borrow from the well-worn analogy of comparing an anticounterfeiting program to playing a game of Whac-a-Mole, combating this modern-day Internet-driven counterfeiting ring is akin to playing a game of Whac-a-Mole on steroids," the fashion brands' lawyers stated in the court documents.
B2BSharing.com is a sophisticated operation with 24/7 online help services and allegedly lifted item images from authorized sellers. With many online outlets, the risk is low because assets are tough to trace, reports WWD.
When the plaintiffs did some digging, they found that the online company was operated by Fujian Sharing Import & Export Ltd., but the address in China was still unknown.
When StyleList checked this morning, both B2BSharing.com and outletnorthface.com were still up and running (polo4sale.com had been taken down), with retail prices slashed 50 to 60%.
Polo and The North Face have been able to trace some of the defendant's assets through purchases made in U.S. dollars. The plaintiffs are striking back in court by seeking $2 million for each counterfeit mark and $250,000 per infringing name.
The accused counterfeiter also allegedly sells other designer brands including Dior, Louis Vuitton, Ed Hardy, and Gucci, but no word yet if more companies will join the legal fray.
Designer brands are hitting back hard at counterfeit dealers. Recently, Fendi scored a whopping $4.7 million win.