ChanelÛªs warning to counterfeiters: “we are watching and we are taking action.” ThatÛªs the literal message you will see when visiting around 40 websites that used to sell counterfeit goods (such as mychanelshop.com) that now redirect to the Chanel-owned website chanelreplica.com. These domains were transferred to Chanel as a result of a favorable decision rendered in May 2010 against two counterfeiters. Chanel has since leveraged these past infringing domain names to send a clear message to fraudsters: that stopping counterfeits is a top priority and that it will take legal action when necessary. At the bottom of chanelreplica.com, Chanel provides links to examples of past judgments against online counterfeit operators, letting them know that it will follow through on its promise to aggressively defend its brand.
Chanel also takes the opportunity to warn current and would-be counterfeiters by posting a copy of a lawsuit in progress on the websites named in the lawsuit. The lawsuit against Liu Zhixian and other unidentified defendants filed on April 10, 2010, for example, is posted on 11 websites, including chanel2u.com. Chanel has provided updates on subsequent orders and injunctions on these sites to let fraudsters know that Chanel is indeed serious about identifying these individuals and making them accountable while simultaneously sending a signal to other counterfeiters not to hijack its brand.
On the consumer front, Chanel creatively uses the recovered domains that now point to chanelreplica.com to educate consumers on why buying fakes is harmful to society as a whole (i.e., by supporting criminal and terrorist activity) and what risks they take on themselves (i.e., receiving poor quality goods with no chance of a refund or repair services). As a result, any consumer who may have visited these sites in the past now knows without any uncertainty that the products were fake, and will maybe even rethink buying fakes in the future. Chanel also takes aim at warning consumers about the downside of buying fakes online at fakechanel.com.
While its fight against counterfeiters is not yet over, Chanel is taking an innovative approach of leveraging past infringing websites to fight the fight. What impact this will eventually have is still to be determined, but if all fake counterfeit sites contained similar messages, counterfeit buyers and sellers alike would likely think twice about engaging in this illegal trade.