Hermès, the French luxury goods manufacturer, together with French authorities has recently uncovered a sophisticated counterfeiting scheme which has seen seven former Hermès employees land themselves with prison sentences.
The counterfeiting scheme related specifically to the manufacture and sale of the Birkin bag. The Birkin bag is a tote style handbag that was developed in 1983 on a flight from Paris to London when Hermès chief executive, Jean-Louis Dumas, was seated next to British-French actor, Jane Birkin. On the flight, Jane Birkin’s bag fell from the overhead locker mid-flight with its contents falling out. The concept of a bag that would fit a lot of contents neatly inside was born soon after and named after the actor. Nowadays, Birkin bags are seen as a symbol of wealth; the price tag for a Birkin can start from $11,000 and go up to the millions.
The counterfeit ring was looked in to by French authorities after Hermès complained of “abnormal behaviour identified through [its] internal monitoring systems”. French authorities later wiretapped the home of a man thought to have been selling stolen, but authentic, Birkin bags. In total, ten defendants have been tried and convicted for intellectual property infringements and criminal breach of trust in relation to the counterfeiting scheme. The prison sentences handed down range from six months suspended jail time to three-year sentences.
It is thought the criminal counterfeiters generated between €2 and €4 million in profits from 2011 to 2014. Due to the high end quality of the fakes, the bags were being sold for between €25,000 and €32,000.
Hermès was awarded damages in the sum of €580,000 despite it seeking damages upwards of €2 million.
If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniels Law on 0191 281 4000 or firstname.lastname@example.orgPosted by: Hannah Flowers in: Copyright, Designs