Row over luxury brand rip-offs rumbles on
Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and other luxury brands suing Alibaba Group Holding Ltd for promoting the sale of counterfeit goods have backed away from their threat to withdraw from mediation, despite Alibaba founder Jack Ma's statement that he would rather lose the case than settle.
Brands owned by Paris-based Kering accepted US District Judge Kevin Castel's request that they try to resolve their differences through a mediator.
The brands, also including Balenciaga and Bottega Veneta, had accused the world's largest online retailer of trademark infringement for letting 31 companies sell knock-off goods, damaging the brands' sales and reputation. One example cited in the lawsuit was a bogus "high quality leather" tote bag offered for $2-$5 that resembled a real Gucci bag costing $795.
'Forbes' magazine earlier this month quoted Ma as saying: "I would (rather) lose the case, lose the money" than settle. "But we would gain our dignity and respect." That prompted the Kering brands to withdraw from mediation, believing Ma's comment made it a "futile exercise". Jonathan Stempel