Chanel v. WGACA Trial: 30,000 Stolen Authenticity Cards Revealed

30,000 Stolen Chanel Authenticity Cards Revealed in Chanel v. WGACA Trial

30,000 Stolen Chanel Authenticity Cards Revealed in Chanel v. WGACA Trial

30,000 Stolen Chanel Authenticity Cards Revealed in Chanel v. WGACA Trial

Chanel’s initial filing against What Goes Around Comes Around (WGACA) consisted of trademark infringement, unfair competition, false advertising, and false association.

Background on the Case:

Trial for Chanel’s 2018 lawsuit against resale industry pioneer WGACA finally began early last week. Chanel’s initial filing against WGACA consisted of trademark infringement, unfair competition, false advertising, and false association.

The lawsuit initially focused on WGACA’s use of Chanel trademarks and references to the French Luxury house in WGACA’s marketing materials. Chanel claimed that WGACA’s marketing deceived consumers into believing Chanel was somehow directly affiliated with WGACA, or that Chanel was somehow authenticating preowned products behind the scenes for WGACA. Specifically highlighted was WGACA’s continuous use of the hashtag #WGACACHANEL, that in 2018 the court later deemed to indeed be an infringement on the trademark and false advertising.

WGACA had refuted that the Chanel trademark was simply used as a classification and Chanel’s claim was an overreaching attempt to ban the legitimate sale of their goods in secondhand markets. What Goes Around Comes Around has been selling pre-owned luxury goods on the secondhand market since 1993 and claims to be “the premier purveyor of the finest luxury vintage accessories and apparel from around the world,” (WGACA). More can be found on WGACA’s Authenticity Guarantee here.

Though part of Chanel’s trademark infringement claims were dismissed on the basis that Chanel could provide no direct evidence that WGACA had created any Chanel official marks themselves, part of the lawsuit was kept, which includes the sale, distribution, or advertising of a counterfeit or other type of infringing mark.

What Goes Around Comes Around is also being accused of false advertising through the sale of 12 counterfeit Chanel handbags and of 779 point-of-sale items (ie. Chanel branded display-only products such as mirrors or display trays, which are typically not marked or specifically marked NOT FOR RESALE).

Spotlight on the Stolen Chanel Authenticity Cards:

During the trial on Jan. 9th, WGACA’s sale of a counterfeit Chanel handbag was brought to light, identified as such due to the use of an unauthorized serial sticker within the bag. Allegedly, this serial sticker was one of 30,000 serial stickers and authenticity cards stolen in 2012 directly from a major Chanel factory in Milan, Italy – Renato Corti, of which since 2019 Chanel now owns a 40% stake. Oddly enough, it was also stated that no physical bags were stolen during that middle-of-the-night robbery.

Chanel claims to have later located the missing serial cards and stickers in a garage raid and in turn internally voided those 30,000 serial numbers. Despite this retrieval, it was revealed that some of these voided serial stickers have since surfaced and have been found within counterfeit handbags. This suggests that even though the serial stickers are now voided within Chanel’s internal database, the serial sticker’s initial production was indeed from a genuine factory and would therefore appear completely genuine in nature. Unfortunately, these genuine but not authorized stickers could now potentially be adhered to counterfeit Chanel products circulating the secondhand market today, further deceiving unknowing secondhand buyers and sellers.

In a trial recap from WWD, “The serial numbers serve other purposes, too, allowing Chanel to pinpoint the factories where goods are made, as well as when and under what conditions. They also enable the company to track detailed information about such specifications as sustainability of each of the components that are used.”

Chanel determined 11 of the 12 handbags to be counterfeit due to the fact that their serial numbers matched those of the stolen serials from 2012, and were thus authentic however unauthorized. The 11th handbag in question, a Clear Vinyl Boy bag with the serial number 17744200, did not match the description listed within Chanel’s internal system which was recorded as a red leather Chanel Sac Bowling. Chanel stated, “A bag is non-genuine when, as here, its characteristics “differ materially from the product authorized by the trademark holder for sale,” (Case Text).

Real Authentication’s Commitment to Staying Informed

This case is hard-hitting for the entire luxury resale and authentication industries. As you may know, Real Authentication’s mission is to provide individuals, dealers, and global brands with unparalleled confidence and peace of mind by leveraging our deep expertise and years of experience to deliver the most trusted and accurate luxury goods authentication service available. In order to maintain our mission, we also remain committed to staying informed to help ensure our expertise and knowledge on all matters of this industry remain top notch. Real Authentication is following this trial closely to not only stay informed about the outcome of this case and how this impacts authenticating and the resale of Chanel bags going forward, but to also understand how this trial could impact authentication and second hand buyers and sellers in the future.

Stay tuned for further updates to the case!

References:

Fashion Dive

The Fashion Law

Purse Bop

Vogue Business

What Goes Around NYC

WWD

Case Text

About Real Authentication: Real Authentication’s mission is to provide individuals, dealers, and global brands with unparalleled confidence and peace of mind by leveraging our deep expertise and years of experience to deliver the most trusted and accurate luxury goods authentication service available. Follow this blog for more industry news, tips to spot counterfeits, and more! You can also connect with us on social media on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest.