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Coach Leatherworks
Hall Of Shame Member
Added August 8, 2010

Last updated - May 17, 2011

What is a COACH?

In sports, it is someone in charge of training an athlete or a team. A coach can be a person who gives private instruction in singing, acting, etc. It can be a railcar where passengers ride or a carriage pulled by four horses with a driver. It is also a handbag manufacturer with its head up its ass. Coach makes claims about being concerned about counterfeits - AFTER it moved its manufacturing facilities to CHINA! China is the Grand Nabob of Counterfeiters! And China does not even have to try hard to accomplish this feat. The counterfeit Coach bags are probably being made at the same factories as the real Coach bags, by the same personnel who make the Coach Bags, with the only real difference is a slightly lower quality and the fact the counterfeit bags are going out the back door instead of the loading dock. Coach created most of its own problem and now it uses that problem to bash legitimate resellers of Coach handbags claiming all the while it is protecting its brand from its own stupidity. .

Somewhere along the line Coach Leatherworks developed a corporate attitude about its handbags and people who were reselling them on the internet. This smells like something a corporate lawyer dreamed up one morning after the corporate lawyer sobered up. Since Coach handbags are sold at discount stores like TJ Maxx and Ross, what possible difference would it make for people to buy Coach handbags at Coach outlet stores and then resell these authentic Coach handbags on the internet? Certainly the end result is the same and it would seem that Coach would net a greater profit from the outlet sale than from the deep discounts to TJ Maxx and Ross? TJ Maxx is where unsold merchandise goes to die because it could not sell anywhere else. That makes Coach a "luxury" handbag? When pigs fly. Coach does not want its product "devalued" by being sold on eBay but it does not bother Coach to wholesale the handbags to TJ Maxx? Right. Is it just us?

It appears that the inmates have taken over the Coach Asylum and are firmly entrenched. Bring on the clowns. If you received a letter from a law firm representing Coach and that letter claims you are selling counterfeit Coach items, and that letter demands payment from you to avoid a lawsuit, it is a scam - do not pay them a dime. The law firm of Gibney Anthony & Flaherty hires "research analysts" to troll the internet, and these analysts, with the apparent blessing of the ethically deficient partners at Gibney Anthony & Flaherty, are going after sales of genuine Coach products because they cannot tell a genuine product from a fake.

UPDATE - February 10, 2011 -
A class action lawsuit [in PDF format] against Coach Inc, has been filed in Seattle, Washington, alleging:

Defendant Coach Inc, is engaged in an illegal, statewide and nationwide campaign to suppress "second hand" sales of its handbags and other products. Through this campaign, Coach is trying to force all consumers to purchase Coach products only in their expensive retail stores, rather than through online second hand online outlets such as E-Bay. Unfortunately, in its pursuit of maximum profits, Coach has employed unfair and deceptive practices and has violated state and federal law.

Without investigating the validity of its allegations, Coach wantonly accuses consumers of infringing its trademarks by selling counterfeit Coach products. Coach apparently monitors online retailers such as E-Bay, looking for ads from consumers selling second hand Coach products. In response to such ads, Coach delegates a New York law firm to launch a threatening letter to the consumer. These letters accuse the consumer of trademark infringement, threaten legal action, and demand the immediate payment of damages to Coach in "settlement" of Coach's threats. At the same time, Coach (or its New York law firm) informs the online retailer that infringing merchandise is being sold on its website. In many cases, this causes the online retailer to involuntarily remove the allegedly infringing ad, and to disable the consumer's online account. This destroys any chance the consumer had to sell the Coach product second hand, and otherwise damages the consumer.

The case, Kim v Coach, 11-cv-0214, seeks damages and other relief. Christopher R Carney of the law firm Carney Gillespie & Isitt, Jason B Moore of the law firm Van Eyk & Moore, and Jay Carlson of Carlson Legal are all listed in the complaint as representing Gina Kim. The complaints alleges violations of the Washington [State] Consumer Protection Act, violating 17 U.S.C. 512(f), defamation, and tortious interference with a business expectancy.

From what we have found, what Coach is completely within its rights to refuse to sell handbags to whomever Coach wants. It appears that every state has laws that allow a store owner to restrict sales as long as the refusal is not discriminatory in nature. But if you are selling a product and the buyer offers to give to you the price that you ask, why not sell it? If Coach has a problem with internet sales then stop selling the handbags at a discount at a company store and have Coach sell them on the internet. Problem solved. But Coach is creating its own problem by being the source of authentic handbags that Coach does not want resold.

But sales restrictions are not what landed Coach in the Tabberone Trademark and Copyright Abusers' Hall of Shame. Coach, either on its own or through bad legal advice from its corporate attorneys, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty, is terminating internet listings for authentic Coach handbags by claiming the handbags, purchased at a Coach store, are counterfeit. Claiming counterfeits when the product is authentic is not a new strategy being used by low-life internet trolls like Gibney Anthony & Flaherty. Also not new is the trademark extortion being used by low-life internet trolls like Gibney Anthony & Flaherty.

We have a cease and desist letter sent by one John Macaluso, Esq., of Gibney Anthony & Flaherty to a party who was selling authentic Coach handbags on eBay. She was buying them from Coach stores. Nowhere in the cease and desist letter is there any specific allegation of infringement. This is a form letter with fill in the blanks so the legal secretary for John Macaluso, Esq. will not have to muss her freshly painted nails as she gets coffee for her master. It seems that John Macaluso, Esq. cannot be expected to leave the golf course long enough to do his job properly.

Someone engaged in large-scale selling of fake Coach bags is not going to receive on of these extortion letters. Rather they will likely receive a visit from local law enforcement armed with a search and seize warrant sign by a federal judge. The people who receive these extortionist demands are selling a single bag that was a present they no longer want or perhaps some genuine Coach bags they bought at the Coach outlet on sale. John Macaluso sends out these form letters much in the same manner as a fisherman uses chum hoping to attract a fish: a small investment with hopes of a large return. Much like the Nigerian email hoaxes that have been around for years.

Note in the cease and desist letter a number of wildly inflated claims that we consider to be bogus.

The penalties for such conduct are severe and may include injunctive relief, actual damages, statutory damages of up to $2,000,000 for each trademark that has been counterfeited, costs and attorney fees.
[emphasis added]

To begin with, if the item were counterfeit, why wouldn't Coach file a lawsuit against the seller as an example? That would have far more effect than a silly, over-blown cease and desist letter that attempts to extort a cash settlement from the seller.

Injunctive relief will only happen if the case went to trial. Someone selling a bag or two is unlikely to ever be sued. John Macaluso somehow omitted the recovery of profits received by the alleged infringer. John, how could you? But, profits as well as actual damages have to be proven by Coach. Since many of the listings are terminated before the offending Coach bag has been sold, profits are likely to be nil or very little. As for damages, Coach has the burden of proving them and for the casual seller they will miniscule.

Statutory damages are a favorite fear tactic of bottom-feeders like John Macaluso, Esq. If the case went to trial, Coach "could" opt for statutory damages of $1,000.00 per bag minimum, assuming the bags were actually counterfeit. The likelihood of a court assessing higher statutory damages against an unknowing infringer is very unlikely. Courts do not punish innocent infringers. Someone who did not know the bag was counterfeit, assuming it actually was counterfeit, is not a willful infringer. As for the out-of-his-ass, wildly fraudulent claim of statutory damages of $2 million per infringement, the court must find that "the use of the counterfeit mark was willful" and the burden of proving willfulness falls to the party making the claim, in this case, Coach.

Costs really are not what one may think. They include court fees, licensing, making copies and a few other things. Generally, costs are your last concern. Attorney fees are an out and out lie. Section 117(a) states

The court in exceptional cases may award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party
[emphasis added]
Legal fees can be a killer. However, courts rarely award attorney fees. Exceptional cases means hard-core counterfeiting, not casual sales. From The End Of Trademark Law, by Kenneth Port,

"As for the threat of treble damages as allowed under the Lanham Act, treble damages are not awarded very frequently. In 2005, like attorney fees, the courts awarded no treble damages although they were requested in 28 cases that went to trial."

Further, the claim of counterfeiting is a sweeping and bogus way of putting legitimate sellers on the defensive from which they have little recourse. Yes, there are counterfeits out there. But John Macaluso, Esq. is not an expert on Coach handbags but he appears to be good at shoveling the shit. To prevail in court, John Macaluso, Esq and Coach would have to actually purchase one of the handbags in question and inspect it to see if it was a counterfeit. But that might interfere with his weekends in the Hamptons. No where in the letter does it say how they know the handbag is counterfeit.

The cease and desist letter also demands that the alleged infringer pay a trademark extortion demand for $300. We are guessing that this is now being taught in law schools. Make false allegations of infringement and then demand money or we will send No-Neck Louie to your house and "breaka you leg".

Getting back to the claim that John Macaluso, Esq is sending out form letters. A form letter strongly suggests it is a racket. We have two copies of the form letter in question and the wording is almost identical. Aside from the obvious difference of the recipient name and the threatened response date, the only other difference is the amount of money in the trademark extortion demand. One demands $300 and the other demands $750. What is the difference? One went to a company and one went to an individual. Is it not amazing that the "cost" of investigating the alleged infringements is such a neat round number?

Compare the above signatures. They came from the "form letters" sent by John Macaluso, Esq, of Gibney Anthony & Flaherty, LLC. They are identical! If John Macaluso cannot be bothered to sign the letters that go out under his name, how do we know he even bothers to read the letters? Is he even sending the letters? Are they being sent by the janitor who is moon-lighting as a legal secretary at night? How lazy can a partner be? Is it not a responsibility of an attorney to insure that every document is accurate before the signature of the lawyer goes on it? Perhaps Gibney Anthony & Flaherty has its own rules of ethics? Try not to laugh too hard.




In an effort to provide a balanced view, we make the following offer to anyone who feels they have been wrongly accused on this web site.

If you, or your company, have been referenced on these pages, and you would like the chance to post a rebuttal, we will post your rebuttal (provided it is in good taste) so others can read it. The rebuttal must be submitted in a format that can easily be converted into HTML. We reserve the right to alter the rebuttal to make it more readable. However, we will not alter the content (unless there is offensive material to be removed). We also reserve the right to comment on any rebuttal received. Emails protesting the content of this web site may be treated as rebuttals by us at our discretion.

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