Chanel Sues Luxury Resellers TheRealReal and What Goes Around Comes Around For Selling Counterfeits

Chanel is defending its coveted trademarks by suing resellers. 

Chanel is citing claims of trademark infringement, false advertising,  unfair competition, and Violation of the New York Deceptive And Unfair Trade Practices Act, among others, and is seeking an array of monetary damages and injunctive relief.

In March 2018, Chanel hit reseller What Goes Around Comes Around with a lawsuit for the sale of counterfeit bags and the improper use of Chanel’s trademarks. What Goes Around Comes Around, or WGACA is the New York-based retailer of pre-owned and vintage designer pieces. It sells in its own stores, on their website, but also at popular third-party retailers like Shopbop and farfetch.com.

The Fashion Law reports that now Chanel has sued popular reseller TheRealReal in a trademark infringement and counterfeiting lawsuit, accusing the popular resale site of “selling counterfeit CHANEL handbags,” despite its claims that it “ensure[s] that every item on[its site] is 100% the real thing.”

Chanel alleges that The RealReal, “through its business advertising and marketing practices, has attempted to deceive consumers into falsely believing that The RealReal has some kind of approval from or an association or affiliation with Chanel or that all CHANEL-branded goods sold by The RealReal are authentic.” 

“Only Chanel itself can know what is genuine Chanel.”

Chanel takes issue with The RealReal’s claims that it employs “so-called experts, [who] have been ‘trained’ to authenticate genuine Chanel-branded goods.” The brand asserts that in reality, “Such training and knowledge regarding authentication of genuine CHANEL-branded goods could only reside within Chanel. Only Chanel itself can know what is genuine Chanel.”

Unfortunately for customers, a fake bag may, on occasion, slip through the cracks. This is why there are additional third-party authentication services like ProAuthenticators and Real Authentication. There are excellent fakes nowadays, and Chanel is alleging that’s exactly what happened. TheRealReal as well as WGACA has violated its trademarks and international counterfeit laws. 

Chanel went on to say, “because certain purported CHANEL serial numbers on the Cartes D’Authenticite do not correspond with the serial numbers designated for the particular style of handbag.”  Chanel handbags and small leather goods each come with a unique serial number that’s placed on a sticker inside of the product and on a plastic Cartes D’Authenticite. These serial numbers correspond with the year and season the product was manufactured. According to Chanel, the items from TheRealReal had serial numbers that couldn’t have matched the products based on their designs.

Yikes. I know they’ve threatened some of my other favorite resellers too, but I feel like it’s not fair to call anyone out unless they’re slapped with a public lawsuit. 

What does Chanel expect for the secondhand and vintage market? For it to go away? I’m curious to know if Chanel is planning to provide authentication services, or if they just assume we’ll stop selling our vintage Chanel bags in favor of new $6000 handbags. 


Becca Risa Luna

Seattle-based fashion writer and personal essayist. Likes designer handbags, glaring openness, and subtle vulgarity.

One thought on “Chanel Sues Luxury Resellers TheRealReal and What Goes Around Comes Around For Selling Counterfeits

  1. Read your article on fake bags good information. If people want buy fake/replica bags it is there right to do so for what ever reason. Also I think that if seller sales the designer bad as a replica bag it let’s the buyer know that it is fake bag and not the real deal so the buyer knows what they are getting. The problem is that you have some sellers trying to sell the fake handbags as the real deal and that is where you get into trouble.

    Like

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