Even though I have done legal work for several companies whose products stand for conspicuous consumption I have always felt a bit uneasy doing so. Half in jest I have often described trademark law as the law of designer jeans, purses and perfumes.

But I now have a different perspective on the problems that confront these brand owners. Two days ago a young woman who works in my building bubbled over with excitement because of her latest purchase. She had been to a counterfeit purse party at the home of a friend. Where she bought a counterfeit Coach purse.
Tupperware made such parties famous. Mary Kay used them to make the color pink a part of middle class America's cultural landscape. But the guests at these parties are offered counterfeit purses, wallets and scarves. You want Coach? We got. You want Prada? We got. You want LV? We can get.

I asked the young lady to show me her counterfeit Coach purse. Now I'm not familiar with the Coach line, but the purse she showed me appeared to be very well made. And it came with a Coach tag and chain, and an elaborate Coach label sewn on the purse.

If I were writing this from Canal Street in NYC it would be a ho hum event. But Indianapolis will never be mistaken for Canal Street. If high quality knock offs are now sold to middle class women at parties in the suburbs of white bread and mayonnaise America- these folks are faced with an enforcement problem bigger than I had ever realized.

And as I was preparing this entry another thought occurred to me. Is there a spillover effect from the music download debate? Or put differently- if I am comfortable downloading music for free is it easier for me to then purchase a knock off without any moral qualms?


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