Blog: Luxury versus landlords
Leonie Barrie | 27 January 2006
Landlords on a Manhattan street that’s a favourite destination for tourists looking for fake luxury goods this week agreed to ban the sale of counterfeit Louis Vuitton goods by their tenants. Eighteen buildings on the infamous New York ‘Canal Street Corridor’ are now covered by injunctions that include regular monitoring, clearly posted signs, and the eviction of tenants who possess fake Louis Vuitton products.
LVMH believes it is putting a stranglehold on the distribution of counterfeit goods – with the US move coming hot on the heels of its legal victory against the owner and operator of Beijing's ‘Silk Street’ shopping mall. But there’s also a danger that such crackdowns will push an already illegal trade even further underground, off the sidewalks and into stalls hidden in residential and office buildings. Yes this might be a strong reminder that the sale of counterfeits is a crime, but it also puts shoppers at risk.
Instead, what about following in the footsteps of the French and Italians, where it’s the consumers who can be fined for buying counterfeit goods? Visitors to Italy face fines of up to EUR10,000 if they’re caught buying counterfeit luxury goods. In August, a Philippine woman living in Florence was apparently fined EUR3,333 for buying fake sunglasses for EUR11, according to Help Consumatori, an Italian consumer information website. Custom officials in Rome are even planning to open a museum of copied goods to educate the public this month. The hope is that an educated customer base will also become a reluctant one if such fines are reinforced. And if the cost savings are over-ridden by high profile penalties, then demand for knock-off merchandise should start to dwindle.
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