Sherri Hill wins Hong Kong copycat case
A Hong Kong retailer of knock-off designer dresses has been hit with a $2.25 million judgment by US-based Sherri Hill and order to shut down a string of online stores.
Sherri Hill, a US designer and retailer of quality prom dresses and evening gowns, has won a permanent injunction against Dress Market , a Hong Kong-based dress retailer who had been operating a network of websites peddling cheap knockoff prom and pageant dresses.
Additionally, after the injunction had been entered, Dress Market had committed contempt of court by defiantly re-posting Sherri Hill’s copyrighted images. In addition to imposing monetary damages, the court ordered all eight domain names and websites operated by the Hong Kong company be completely shut down and transferred to Sherri Hill.
In the original complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan in August 2013, Sherri Hill had accused Dress Market of selling hundreds of Sherri Hill dresses through multiple websites, including MerleDress.com, which, as a result of the case, now directs to Sherri Hill’s website.
The complaint alleged that, by using Sherri Hill’s copyrighted images, Dress Market deliberately confused consumers into thinking they were getting the same style and quality products, when the actual quality of the dresses was much lower. Several dresses had been shipped to investigators in New York City by Dress Market’s employees, according to court papers.
Dress Market’s lawyers unsuccessfully sought to have the case dismissed, arguing that the US federal courts lacked jurisdiction because Dress Market was operating its business entirely out of China and Hong Kong.
But the court found that the sale and shipment of several dresses to the New York investigators, along with the unauthorised display of copyright images to New York consumers, were sufficient activities to warrant granting US federal courts jurisdiction over the infringing conduct occurring in China.
After the preliminary ruling, Dress Market’s lawyers then sought to formally withdraw, claiming that the defendant had ceased communication.
The federal lawsuit, filed by New York brand protection specialist Gioconda Law Group, successfully sought the statutory damages and a permanent injunction.
“Sherri Hill will continue to protect her valuable trademarks and copyrights aggressively, both online and in the bricks-and-mortar context,” said Joseph C. Gioconda, her attorney for Sherri Hill.