IP Litigation Blog
Or, "Those Who Live By The Sword..."
Here's an amusing little class action case filed in Seattle this week. Seems Coach, Inc., well known purveyors of high end handbags and such, in their never-ending zeal to protect innocent consumers from inferior (and, more reasonably priced) "knock off" goods, unleashed their New York lawyers to crack down on one Ms. Gina Kim -- a Seattle woman who had the unmitigated nerve to list a supposed "Coach" handbag for sale on her eBay account.
Showing little mercy and no tolerance for those who scoff at trademarks and the God-given right of consumers not to be deceived, Coach demanded removal of the listing, cancellation of Ms. Kim's eBay account, surrender of the offending bag to Coach, and a monetary payment sufficient to make her think twice about ever trying such a stunt again. Civic-minded eBay, demonstrating its own true mettle, cracked down harshly on Ms. Kim by canceling the listing and terminating her account. It's satisfying outcomes such as these that warm the hearts of the brave corporate warriors who protect us from such outrageous crimes.
Only one slight problem...
Turns out Ms. Kim was listing a genuine Coach bag that she owned legally and had every right (at least for now) to sell on the secondary or used market.
In her action, Ms. Kim is suing Coach for, among other things, defamation, misrepresentation of trademark infringement, violation of Washington's Consumer Protection Act and tortious interference with business expectancy. And she is doing it as a class-action case on behalf of other Washington residents who have been similarly harassed. Apparently there is good reason to think she is not alone.
My reaction? You Go, Girl!! Best of luck, and go get 'em!
Now obviously I am slightly biased and have a bit of an ax to grind. After all, I, along with others in my noble calling, am frequently accused of "misusing" the patent system and IP rights to take advantage of poor, defenseless, multi-billion dollar corporations who would never dream of using another's property for free. So when I see these same companies use their powers to crack down on the savage individuals who threaten civilization by selling their own property to make ends meet, it makes me shake my head in sadness. When I see them try this and screw up royally in the process, it brings a smile to my face.
Anyway, this is one to keep an eye on.