LANCEL mark owner helps smash counterfeit eyewear operation

Russian Federation

In Russia, as in many other countries around the world, the importation and distribution of counterfeit goods - primarily of Chinese origin - has reached alarming proportions. A recent case involving counterfeit eyewear sold in Russia under the famous mark LANCEL (a Richemont brand usually associated with luggage and leather accessories) shows that despite the obstacles to enforcement in Russia, it is still possible to obtain very effective results quickly and efficiently.

In July last year, French company Lancel Sogedi SA, owner of the LANCEL trademark, filed a complaint with the police against a Moscow-based company called Gallant International Optical Ltd - an affiliate of a Chinese company based in the Ouhai district of Wenzhou Province. Lancel Sogedi alleged that Gallant was distributing counterfeit sunglasses bearing the LANCEL mark. The counterfeit products were being sold in open-air markets in Moscow and other cities in Russia, as well as in luxury retail outlets in Moscow.

Following an investigation, the Moscow police raided the premises of Gallant and seized over 150,000 fake sunglasses with an estimated retail value of $1.5 million. Gallant and its directors are now being prosecuted by both the Interior Ministry of Russia and the Public Prosecutor's Office of Moscow under Sections 180 to 183 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. If convicted, the directors could face lengthy prison sentences. The matter is set to be decided by a competent Moscow court later this year.

The case was widely reported in the business media in Russia and should serve as a deterrent to those engaged in the trade of counterfeits in Russia. As Gallant was also dealing in other foreign trademarks, the Russian police have invited the owners of these brands to join Lancel Sogedi in prosecuting those responsible.

Vladimir Biriulin, Gorodissky & Partners, Moscow

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