#YAS. Masks and face cream. Who wouldn’t want that?
In the year since Supreme, a New York-based shop known for producing counterfeit “artfications” and other designer merchandise, was shut down by the police, the Department of Justice is warning sellers of fake designer items to be on the lookout.
“The sale of counterfeit goods is often hidden within the illegal activities of those who manufacture and market fake goods,” said John Morton, assistant attorney general for the department’s Criminal Division, in a statement sent to The New York Times. “We do not distinguish between those who profit from fakes and those who actively peddle them.”
Federal officials said counterfeiters selling such products were a major problem for big brands, as the sales of counterfeit products have gone up in the wake of Supreme’s eviction last May.
“Instead of luring consumers with the high prices and design of designer goods, the resellers now look to prey on unsuspecting consumers with affordable counterfeit goods and fake trademarks in an attempt to buy orders from merchants seeking to profit from trade dress infringements and trademarks registered, trademarked, and protected by law,” the statement read.
Previous attempts to close down a website or website selling counterfeit goods have faced resistance from Internet users and foreign websites, but the DOJ’s warning may help to reduce those cases.
Last July, the department’s Intellectual Property Enforcement Center produced a report containing more than 2,500 petitions, a breakdown of which included an analysis of counterfeit activities by industry. The most popular industries for infringing products included food, pharmaceuticals, gaming, and fashion.
And ever since Supreme was closed, the department claims, the number of counterfeiters running websites to sell fake products has increased. According to the statement, about 567,000 fake trademarks were seized by federal officials in 2012. That number rose to over 800,000 a year later, and to over 1 million in 2018.
The numbers “underscore the unacceptably large and growing number of consumers that are being harmed by these illegal activities and demand that U.S. law enforcement take vigorous enforcement actions at every step of the supply chain,” the statement said.
On the one hand, the company that sold the masks and face cream seems to have been working hard.
Last November, the DOJ announced the arrest of the site’s founder, Isaac Locke. He was charged with wire fraud, money laundering, and more, a violation of the U.S. Money Laundering Act. In April, authorities also found more than $9 million worth of counterfeit goods and over $17 million in cash in his apartment.
On the other hand, there are still plenty of counterfeit shops out there. Check out the lawsuit Macy’s filed against a company called AvitaVans.com to see why it’s not off the list just yet.
An earlier version of this article has been updated to reflect that AvitaVans is an infringing fashion company.
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