Meta and Christian Louboutin are coming together to sue an individual they allege operated a counterfeit Louboutin production business out of Mexico and used Facebook and Instagram to promote the products.
Filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, the lawsuit claims that Cesar Octavio Guerrero Alejo used Facebook and Instagram to promote his business selling illegal counterfeit Christian Louboutin goods, violating both platform’s terms of service, “since at least June 2020 and continuing until at least May 2023.” It says that Meta disabled his accounts and removed the promotional posts, but that the defendant continued to utilize the platforms “to promote the sale of Louboutin-branded counterfeit goods and the unauthorized use of several of Louboutin’s registered trademarks, including notably: the CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN word mark; the CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN and LOUBOUTIN script signature logo marks; and the RED SOLE logo mark.”
The filing further calls for the defendant (read, the counterfeiter) to stop his “continuing infringement and counterfeiting, false designation of origin, dilution of its valuable trademarks, and unfair competition through unauthorized advertisement, offer for sale, sales and promotion of counterfeit merchandise bearing the Louboutin marks.”
In a press release, Meta said it had “taken multiple enforcement actions against the defendant’s Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp accounts (and) implemented robust IP protection measures across our technologies, including proactive detection and enforcement, a global notice-and-takedown program and policies to suspend repeat infringers.”
Easily buyable counterfeit fashion items remains an issue for shoppers, second-hand retailers and government agencies alike. (See: the rise of “superfake” bags, per the New York Times.) It’s been a major problem for Meta, which says it removed more than 1.7 million pieces of content on Facebook and Instagram in response to more than 180,000 counterfeit reports.
“This lawsuit is a clear signal to those who would seek to engage in similar abuses that this behavior will not be tolerated,” the press release continued. “(We) and Christian Louboutin plan to continue their enforcement efforts against counterfeiting and hold those who abuse our policies accountable.”
This joint case between a tech giant and luxury designer could be an inkling of a new precedent. Or, in disincentivizing counterfeiters use of platforms like Meta’s, it could push sellers of fakes to other websites without much moderation or enforced intellectual property rights.
In a statement to Fashionista, a representative for Meta wrote: “Cross-industry collaboration with businesses, trade organizations, government entities, creators, users and others, is at the heart of Meta’s strategy in the fight against online counterfeiting. We regularly engage directly with brands and other stakeholders to gain insights into the latest trends, behaviors, and issues that help us enhance our IP protection measures and identify new strategies (like litigation) to tackle infringement.”
Stay tuned for more updates on this case.