Bridal, Prom Companies Shut Down Chinese Counterfeiters

American Bridal and Prom companies have scored a major victory in their legal battle against counterfeiters with a federal court order shutting down nearly 1,100 Chinese websites selling knockoff dresses and freezing bank accounts held by these sites. The economic blow hits the counterfeit sites during the spring selling season when prom dress and wedding gown sales peak in the U.S.

According to the American Bridal and Prom Industry Association (ABPIA), a non-profit trade group, Chinese websites ship at least 600,000 knockoff dresses annually into the U.S. The ABPIA estimates $300 million in lost revenue each year for the American special occasion industry. 

The websites, which are almost exclusively located in China, scam consumers by using the original designers' photos and trademarks to mislead shoppers into thinking they are buying an authentic design at an unbelievable price.

ABPIA sued the counterfeit sites in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The court's recent rulings:
  • froze assets including PayPal and bank accounts owned by the defendants
  • directed domain registrars to disable web addresses of 1,100 counterfeit sites.
  • barred those sites from marketing or selling counterfeit or "knockoff" dresses.
Roanna Rose, ABPIA secretary and owner of TJ Formal dress shops in Missouri and South Carolina, has heard countless stories of consumers being taken by these websites.  She says some consumers never receive the dress they ordered while others receive shoddy imitations. "Who wants to be left empty handed or with a rag of a dress for a once-in-a-lifetime night as big as Prom or a day as special as your wedding?" says Rose.

"ABPIA also wants Google to stop taking advertising dollars from counterfeiters who use protected trademarks and images from legitimate American companies to drive traffic to the knockoff sites," says ABPIA attorney Craig Hilliard, a partner at Stark & Stark in Princeton, N.J.
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