ABPIA's readies next step against counterfeiters

 As the American Bridal and Prom Industry Association (ABPIA) quietly readies the next major thrust in its five year effort to combat off shore factories selling cheap imitation gowns to unsuspecting brides and Prom goers, it is asking major manufacturers to support its efforts by taking the cost effective step of registering their gowns and collections with the US Copyright office.

Doing so, according to Jon Liney, ABPIA vice president, enables the association to more fully represent each company in its legal filings for trademark and copyright infringement, and for the unlawful use of members' dress images on websites. 

And the more the plaintiffs, the more the images, the stronger the ABPIA strategy.

“But those dresses and collections need to be registered,” he said. “Without registration, we have a much more limited standing in court” and consequently the ABPIA will only list as plaintiffs those manufacturers/members that have done so.

The ABPIA is offering to assist any manufacturer in the registration by making Craig Hilliard, of Stark and Stark, the firm spearheading the legal effort, available to answer any and all questions. 

“We feel quite strongly that pursuing copyright enforcement actions on our members’ behalf will further strengthen our ability to take down more illegal websites and images,” wrote Hilliard in a letter to industry manufacturers and members. “But in order to pursue copyright infringement claims, a member must (under the law) actually register its dress collections with the U.S. Copyright Office.”

The process to do so is not tedious nor expensive, as a manufacturer can register entire collections under a single filing for approximately $1000 in fees that include expedited registration.

It’s a step that Liney and the ABPIA strongly recommend even if a manufacturer decides not to join the association.

“Registering your dresses and collections protects your brand, and the value of your company,” he added “and preserves your rights and ability to enforce those rights… either as part of our effort, or as an individual company. It just makes good business sense.”

The effort to expand the number of plaintiffs and the strength of their claims for the next step in ABPIA legal filings is just the latest step of a successful multi-front focus.

In addition to closing over 1,600 websites, removing over 20 million images from infringing websites through the association’s DMCA notice process, and receiving sizeable damage awards, the ABPIA’s lobbying efforts have made significant inroads raising the issue of counterfeiting with members of Congress.

Specifically, US Senator Robert Menendez sent a letter recently to Google CEO Sundar Pichai calling on Google to protect consumers from being cheated by fraudulent foreign counterfeiters that are buying the search engine’s online advertising products to market fake, inferior knock-offs. Supported by several other senators, Menendez demanded answers and suggested congressional hearings could be held if satisfactory answers were not supplied.

(Additional details of the letter can be viewed here )

For additional details on registering images, and/or ABPIA membership, contact Jon Liney at info@abpia.org.

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