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Intellectual Property Insights from Fishman Stewart
Mini Article – Volume 24, Issue 3

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If You Like It Then You Shoulda Put a © on It.

By Kristyn Webb

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and jewelry sales are usually around $6 billion USD in the United States alone. In 2021, the US Customs and Border Protection agency seized over $1 billion USD worth of counterfeit pieces of jewelry. One jewelry artist, David Yurman, who makes braided cable jewelry, has been battling imitators for many years. A few years ago, he won a $1.5 million judgment against several online stores selling counterfeit goods.

One of the strategies behind his success at shutting down counterfeiters is that he has obtained copyright registrations for several of his designs, in addition to trademark and trade dress protection. Trademark and trade dress infringement hinges on the potential for consumer confusion, and where a bold infringer clearly indicates that its product is a knockoff or “designer inspired,” the potential for consumers to believe they are purchasing legitimate products may be difficult to prove. A claim for copyright infringement, on the other hand, does not require evidence of potential consumer confusion, but rather looks at the similarity between the copyrighted design and the accused design.

Yurman’s website also has a place where consumers can report counterfeits. In addition to potentially damaging a brand, counterfeits can be harmful to consumers. Knockoff jewelry can turn your skin green, and it also can contain metals and other substances that are absorbed into the body and can lead to long-term health issues. While intellectual property theft is often thought of as a “victimless crime” the sale of counterfeit goods has been linked to funding criminal activities like human trafficking, terrorism, and money laundering.

So, if you are looking for the perfect gift this year that expresses your feelings for your loved one, buy legitimate and authentic items. Real love is not very well expressed with fake goods.
Kristyn Webb is the Group Leader of Fishman Stewart’s Copyright Practice Group, and holds a Master’s Degree in Copyright Law from King’s College London.


Published February 9, 2024

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