updated 02:50 pm EDT, Fri July 11, 2014
Case could be worth billions of dollars
Speaker and headphone maker Beats -- currently undergoing an acquisition by Apple -- has filed a lawsuit against a collection of Chinese counterfeiters, asking for billions of dollars in damages. "This action has been filed by Beats to combat online counterfeiters who trade upon Beats' reputation and goodwill by selling and/or offering for sale unlicensed and counterfeit products featuring Beats' trademarks," the complaint reads. "The Defendants create [fake Internet storefronts] by the hundreds or even thousands and design them to appear to be selling genuine Beats products, while actually selling low-quality Counterfeit Beats Products to unknowing consumers."
The lawsuit further charges that the counterfeiters were linked together in a ring designed to maximize profits while guarding against the risk of discovery. Fake Beats products were reportedly shipped in "in small quantities via international mail to minimize detection by US Customs and Border Protection."
Beats is asking for a ban on future sales and imports of the counterfeit goods, and the seizure of all profits, a figure that could potentially run into billions of dollars. An alternate proposal is $2 million for each incident of infringement, and another $100,000 per domain name.
More realistically, Beats may simply be hoping to halt the current influx of illegal products and deter future incidents. Apple may be particularly concerned, as it is used to enforcing a strict brand image, even if its products are still counterfeited on a regular basis.