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Louis Vuitton lawsuit over Swap Shop designer knockoffs going to trial Coming Monday to a South Florida courtroom: a battle royal between luxury brand Louis Vuitton and the Swap Shop flea market over designer knockoffs.
Preston Henn may have thought the fashion industry was done with him about a year ago when he settled similar allegations by Coach for $5.5 million an amount the eccentric Swap Shop owner called "pocket change" at the time. This time, Henn vows he will fight the expensive French designer brand's claims against him, his wife Betty and their iconic business on Sunrise Boulevard in Lauderhill. Louis Vuitton is seeking millions of dollars in the federal civil lawsuit, alleging that the Henns contributed to the counterfeiting of its trademark designs and products by continuing to lease space to flea market tenants they knew, or should have known, were selling fake Louis Vuitton items. Henn, 84, told the Sun Sentinel he regrets settling the Coach lawsuit in louis vuitton alma bag strap December 2013 after just two days of testimony and said he plans to fight the Louis Vuitton case all the way, though he won't reveal trial strategy. "If you were playing poker, would you let someone see your hand while you're still playing?" Henn said. Henn could be playing a risky hand. If jurors side with Louis Vuitton, Henn might have to pay damages between $1,000 and $2 million for each proven trademark violation. Legal experts say each suitcase, handbag or wallet could count for several violations. The design on the leather or fabric, the label, the clasp and other parts can each count as a separate breach and the penalties can swiftly add up. Louis Vuitton has not specified how many possible trademark violations it alleges took place in the four year period covered louis vuitton medium agenda youtube by the lawsuit. The luxury brand sells luggage, handbags, wallets, clothing and other items for hundreds and thousands of dollars apiece. The case will be closely watched by other fashion and luxury brands because it is so unusual for these kinds of contributory trademark lawsuits to make it to trial. Defendants usually settle because the stakes are so high, legal experts said. Louis Vuitton's lead trial lawyer Harry Schafer said he plans to make Henn's significant personal wealth a feature of the trial. District Judge William Zloch in court. "This isn't some mom and pop operation." Henn wouldn't put an estimate on his personal wealth. "They can say anything they want to," Henn said. "My wife and I work seven days a week and it's almost 24/7." If Louis Vuitton wins, Schafer told the trial louis vuitton shoes yahoo answers judge he will seek hefty damages, partly because Henn characterized his $5.5 million settlement with Coach as "pocket change" in an interview with the Sun Sentinel. "It's going to take a heck of a lot more than that to deter Mr. Henn," Schafer said. Schafer argues that Henn and his wife deliberately turned a blind eye to the sale of fake designer goods at the flea market. Their motive, Schafer says, was to make more money. Several law enforcement raids, many arrests and repeated notifications from Louis Vuitton and other designer brands mean the Henns have long been aware their flea market is well known as "the place to go if one is looking to purchase counterfeit items," according to the Louis Vuitton lawsuit. Henn's empire includes flea markets and drive in movie theaters in Lauderhill, Lake Worth and Tampa. The Henns work long hours at the Swap Shop, monitor the 88 acre property via security cameras and patrol it by golf cart. The lawsuit concerns Louis Vuitton fakes sold only at the Lauderhill property, which has more than 1,000 spaces for traders, a 14 screen drive in, food court, amusement rides, paid parking and Henn's impressive race car collection. Louis Vuitton estimated in court records that the Lauderhill property alone "is a multi million dollar business that is worth an eight or nine figure fortune" to the Henns. "While it does not take an expert to figure out that low priced, cheap looking 'Louis Vuitton' items offered for sale at the market do not bear genuine Louis Vuitton trademarks, the Henns who own numerous genuine Louis Vuitton items are aware of the price and quality of genuine Louis Vuitton items," Schafer wrote in court records. Henn's defense lawyers, Bruce Rogow and Steven Osber, will argue that most reasonable people who buy "Louis Vuitton" at the Swap Shop don't louis vuitton iphone 5 case amazon believe they are purchasing the real thing. And the designer's reputation is not suffering any damage or brand confusion because of a few such alleged sales, the defense argues. The designer items are legally sold new only at Louis Vuitton stores, the company's online store and some upscale department stores. But the defense will argue that it is impossible for Henn and his staff to accurately distinguish between counterfeits and used genuine items that can be legally sold by their owners.
Rogow said the Henns have done their best to keep counterfeit items from being sold at the market by handing out fliers warning traders and hiring experts to identify fakes. Jury selection for the trial is scheduled to begin Monday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale. Rogow also hopes to convince jurors that Louis Vuitton is unfairly targeting the Henns in their role as landlords of an enormous, bustling flea market because they have much deeper pockets than the small number of traders who actually sold counterfeits.
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