Snohomish small business being sued for selling fake Coach bags

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on August 13, 2013 at 4:46 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 13 at 6:00 PM

With its neon signs and barber poles, Pegasus Memorabilia stands out along antique row in Snohomish.  The store, popular among tourists and kids looking for candy, is a lot of things. A Mecca for high fashion is not one of them.

So, when owner Sherl Stocking got hit with a law suit by designer bag maker Coach, he was blindsided.

“I wouldn't have thought that in my wildest dreams,” Stocking said Tuesday.

Last year, an undercover customer working for Coach bought five items at Pegasus. The company claims they are all counterfeits. Among the items, a pair of reading glasses that sold for less than ten bucks.

“They were $9.95, and then 25% off of that,” he said.

Stocking says he bought some of the items from a national gift show in Las Vegas. The others came from an estate sale. In his sworn deposition to the court, Stocking said he assumed the they were “used, authentic Coach goods.” He calls the matter an honest mistake, but coach is showing no mercy.

”They’re being bullies,” said Stocking. “I don't think they have a lot of concern for other people.”

Counterfeit merchandise costs designers billions every year and many are cracking down. Stocking says Coach is demanding compensation to settle the suit that he can't afford. He says it'll end up costing him upwards of $50,000 for what was $130 in questionable merchandise. He believes small businesses like his are unfair targets.

“If you tie a deer to a tree it's a lot easier to shoot it, and that's what they're doing. They’re going after is the people who are sitting still,” he said.

Stocking fears he'll likely have to close shop after 13 years in Snohomish.

“I’ll be done. Put a fork in me,” he said.

A spokesperson for Coach said the company has "zero tolerance" for counterfeiting and sues "individuals and all types of businesses" who engage in the practice. Coach has filed 700 lawsuits across the country and has collected millions of dollars.

The following is the email response by a Coach representative to KING 5's inquiry:

Your inquiry has been forwarded to me for attention.  The lawsuit you are asking about, Coach v. Pegasus Theater Shops, et al, is part of Coach’s national anti-counterfeiting civil litigation program, known as Operation Turnlock.   Operation Turnlock is designed to protect Coach’s intellectual property rights and to deter others from engaging in the illegal conduct of trafficking in counterfeit goods.  Since the inception of Operation Turnlock, Coach has filed approximately 700 lawsuits across the country and has collected millions of dollars from defendants.  Coach has zero tolerance for counterfeits and, accordingly, we have sued individuals and all types of businesses who sell counterfeit goods or who permit such activity to occur on their premises, from large national chains to small stores and flea markets.  We want everyone engaged in this conduct to be forewarned that Coach is aggressively prosecuting these cases, and seeks the maximum monetary penalties available under the law.
We also wish to let consumers know that Coach does NOT offer its merchandise for sale through individuals, street vendors, unauthorized retail locations, internet auctions or house parties.  The only way to ensure that you are receiving an authentic Coach item is to purchase Coach merchandise exclusively from the following distributors: 1) Coach Stores; 2) Coach Factory Stores; 3) www.coach.com; www.coachfactory.com ; and 4) authorized retailers, (which can be found under the “Store Locator” link on www.coach.com).  Finally, we ask the public to assist us in cracking down on the illegal activity of counterfeiting by calling 1-877-7TURNLOCK or emailing counterfeits@coach.com with any information about counterfeit Coach merchandise.    
 
Best,
Nancy Axilrod
Coach, Inc.
Vice President and Deputy General Counsel


 

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