Since our post on last week about Kanacca and their
questionable copyright infringement tactics there have been some interesting developments.
We have received many comments overwhelmingly favorable about our reporting. As to the others, we are sorry we burst your bubble, but come on…even
if you are on a tight budget there has to be a better way to acquire a fab
wedding dress than to buy a designer rip-off (like second hand or vintage).
Contrary to what some may believe, wedding dresses do not cost $50 to produce.
Yes, sure there are considerable markups, but the materials alone are
costly, not to mention marketing, overhead, etc. Besides, at the end of the day
it is blatant stealing.
Yet, would a potential customer of a bridal salon with say a
budget of $4,000 really be wooed by a $300 knock-off? I asked Annalisa Austin,
marketing director of Mon Amie Bridal Salon in Costa Mesa, CA about this. “Well maybe not all [would buy a knock-off], but knock-offs cheapen the couture designer’s brand. A
bride doesn’t know the quality she will receive and by the time she realizes
she received complete garbage she runs to us and it’s our job to perform magic
to get her a dream dress in very little time.”
Echoing these sentiments, Saundra Farr, Director of U.S. Sales and Operations for
bridal gown designer Augusta Jones said, “it has not come to our attention that
any of our potential customers have purchased one of these knock-offs.” She
recently contacted Kanacca to remove the designer’s photos immediately. They have, but the site remains operational.
“I‘ve heard of a store that purchased one of these $200 copies and hung it next to the
$5,000 designer original to show what complete crap these dresses are.”
We contacted some of the other wedding dress designers found on
Kanacca’s site and were surprised to find that they had no idea this was happening until we
Designer Lela Rose said, “I was not aware of this site until told of
it by this reporter (from Second City Style) today.” When asked if she aggressively
enforces her copyright she continued, “we enforce our copyrighted name but
have yet to go after someone for using a design. This site is such an egregious
infringement though that we will now.”
I then asked Lela Rose what advice she had for smaller, lesser known
designers whose work is also being stolen and she remarked, “on one hand, if a
knockoff is a riff on your design, it can be flattering. When it is outright
stealing, it is a completely different story. To maintain our quality and
image, an infringement such as this one cannot and will not be tolerated.” She
plans to take legal action immediately.
Jane Wang, a designer from New York City (photo to left) has only been in business for
10 months yet photos of her gowns found their way onto Kanacca’s site. Unfortunately, we were the ones to tell her. “I didn’t know about
Kanacca’s web site until my conversation with you yesterday. I am very upset.” She continued, ”I would
like to stop this illegal action, but am not sure what I can do in this case. I will contact my friends in China to see if
the law in China could lock up these criminals, but as far as I understand
China has too many copyright problems. I fear they are just unstoppable.”
So, what can be done to help these designers? Second City Style spoke to an expert in the area of trademark protection for answers. According to Steven Gursky, a partner in the New York office of the law firm Dreier LLP who has represented numerous designers in their anti-counterfeiting efforts, "it would appear what these people are doing is actionable.
Designers should not have to accept such blatant and direct thievery of their
designs and copywrited photographs." He went on to say, "designers would be wise to look for
remedies under Chinese and U.S. laws. There is a great likelihood that there
could jurisdiction in the U.S. because the site is interactive (one can order online). If
these dresses are sent to or distributed in the U.S. there is a better chance for jurisdiction in the
U.S. as part of the companies’ enforcement efforts."
-Lauren Dimet Waters