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Monthly Archives: April, 2012

Why Brand Owners Don’t Donate Counterfeits to Charity

In reaction to recent stories of destruction of bridal gowns and other clothing that could have gone to the needy, people are asking why brand owners don’t donate seized counterfeit goods.  Four reasons. 

First, U.S. trademark law provides for the destruction of counterfeit goods; it does not permit donation.  Second, counterfeit goods are by their very nature inferior.  A trademark owner has a responsibility to insure that inferior goods bearing its brand do not circulate.  This principle is known as the duty to maintain quality control.  One can lose trademark rights for failing to exercise quality control.  Third, once goods leave the hands of the brand owner or retailer, even with the best of intentions, it is difficult to ensure that donated goods do not end up being resold.  Fourth, for many brands, the cold, hard fact is that the brand may suffer if consumers see it worn by the needy because the selling point is exclusivity. 

So, before you point the finger at a brand-owner for failing to donate counterfeits or even legitimate goods to the needy, ask yourself: would consumers want the product as much, at the same price, if he did?

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