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Gucci and Facebook file joint lawsuit against alleged online counterfeit seller

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Apr 27, 2021 3:49 pm

Online counterfeit sellers (and patrons), beware.

Gucci and Facebook have filed a joint lawsuit in California against the alleged head of an international online counterfeit business, who used the social media platform to sell and promote fake Gucci products.

The move was said to be the first of its kind for both companies in an effort to crack down on the sale of counterfeit goods online.

In the joint lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, Facebook and Gucci sued Moscow-based Natalia Kokhtenko for breach of Facebook and Instagram’s Terms and infringement of Gucci’s intellectual property rights.

According to a statement from Facebook, Kokhtenko used multiple Facebook and Instagram accounts to “evade Facebook’s enforcement efforts and continue to promote the sale of counterfeit Gucci products.”

One of Natalia Kokhtenko's over 150 Instagram accounts she allegedly used to promote and sell counterfeit designer items, particularly of Gucci's. Photo from www.thefashionlaw.com

Kokhtenko reportedly promoted her several online stores that sold an array of fake goods (specifically Gucci) through more than five Facebook accounts and 150 Instagram accounts across multiple devices.

Upon learning about Kokhtenko’s websites and social media accounts, Gucci, through one of its agents, reportedly purchased a number of items from Kokhtenko and confirmed that the products were indeed counterfeit.

With this, Gucci alerted Facebook of the said activity that prompted the social media giant to disable Kokhtenko’s accounts and remove posts that promoted fake goods after sending her several notices about her violation of the terms.

Facebook and Instagram’s terms strictly prohibit intellectual property infringement, including the sale or promotion of counterfeit products. When one successfully creates a Facebook or Instagram account, one agrees to adhere to the social media platforms’ terms of use.

Counterfeit Gucci bags purchased by the luxury fashion house's agent from Kokhtenko. Photo from www.thefashionlaw.com

Both the social media platform and the Italian luxury fashion house are seeking to bar Kokhtenko from “accessing or attempting to access Facebook’s services platforms, and computer systems including Instagram,” among other orders like refraining from infringing on Gucci’s trademark.

Gucci, whose brand is known as one of the most counterfeited in the world, is also seeking monetary damages three times what Kokhtenko profited from selling the fake goods, or an alternative of statutory damages of $2 million for every prohibited trademark counterfeited.

“We’re working to ensure Facebook platforms are safe for people and business to connect, share and buy and sell together,” Facebook said.

“This lawsuit is a clear signal to those who would seek to engage in similar abuses that this behavior will not be tolerated. Facebook and Gucci plan to continue their enforcement efforts against counterfeiting and hold those who abuse Facebook and Instagram accountable.”