Consumer Law

Suit Accuses Coach Inc. of Improper Crackdown on eBay Handbag Sellers

A woman who tried to sell her Coach handbag on eBay is suing the company after its lawyers accused her of selling counterfeit goods and threatened her with a $2 million penalty.

Gina Kim says she purchased the $428 handbag with her employee discount when she worked at a Coach store in 2004, the Associated Press reports. Lawyers told Kim in a cease-and-desist letter that she could avoid big penalties if she signed a statement admitting wrongdoing and paid Coach $300, the story says.

Now Kim has filed suit in federal court in Seattle claiming violations of state consumer protection law, defamation, misrepresentation of trademark infringement, and interference with her business relationship with eBay. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog noted the story and posted a copy of the suit (PDF), which seeks class action status.

“Without investigating the validity of its allegations, Coach wantonly accuses consumers of infringing its trademarks by selling counterfeit Coach products,” the suit says. “Defendant Coach Inc. is engaged in an illegal, statewide and nationwide campaign to suppress ‘secondhand’ sales of its handbags and other products.”

Coach’s associate general counsel, Nancy Axilrod, told AP the company believes there is no merit to the allegations and it plans a vigorous defense.

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