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The Associated Press September 21, 2011, 3:43PM ET

Chanel files Internet trademark lawsuit in Vegas

Chanel Inc. has filed a sweeping cyberpiracy and trademark infringement lawsuit in Nevada against 399 websites the company accuses of selling counterfeit items bearing the luxury retailer's name.

The suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas seeks unspecified damages from unnamed operators of websites that the New York-based fashion house alleges operate from China, the Bahamas and other overseas jurisdictions where trademark enforcement is lax.

Lead attorney for Chanel, Stephen Gaffigan of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was out of the office and unable to immediately respond Wednesday to messages seeking comment.

The suit was first reported by the Las Vegas Sun.

The complaint takes the trademark infringement battle beyond a fight to stamp out street corner knock-offs.

It seeks an order to seize or disable website domain names and an injunction barring defendants -- identified only as "partnerships and unincorporated associations" -- from selling counterfeit goods including handbags, wallets, shoes, boots, sunglasses, scarves, T-shirts, watches and jewelry bearing the Chanel name.

Gaffigan is also the lead lawyer in similar cases in federal court in Las Vegas involving retailers Tiffany (NJ) LLC, and Louis Vuitton Malletier, S.A.

The Tiffany lawsuit filed April 18 targets 223 unnamed website operators, including several that are also named in the Chanel case.

The Louis Vuitton lawsuit, filed May 9, identifies 182 websites as defendants.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges offending websites use Chanel-sounding or Tiffany-sounding names and keyword optimization methods to show up atop Google and Yahoo search engine lists.

The plea to the court calls domain names such as,, and "identical or confusingly similar to" actual Chanel and Tiffany names.

The cases follow a federal judge's order in August 2010 allowing defendants in a federal trademark infringement and counterfeiting lawsuit to be served legal notice by email.

That ruling by U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson in Las Vegas came after Las Vegas-based attorney David Kahn, representing Chanel, alleged that two defendants were purposely falsifying their physical addresses but had valid email accounts.

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