Mayor pulls welcome mat on counterfeiting

The New York City Police has seized more than $1 million in counterfeit watches, clothing, accessories and fragrances in a raid on 32 storefronts in three buildings in Chinatown. Counterfeit Burberry, Calvin Klein, Coach, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Gucci, Rolex and Prada goods were removed from circulation in the largest such dragnet since 2005.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration, in conjunction with the New York City Police, launched an anti-counterfeiting initiative aimed at the landlords who rent old buildings to counterfeiters, who in turn split them into dozens of shops. The initiative aims to take the economic incentives out of counterfeit sales, as these damage the tax receipts of the city, sustain organized crime and deceive consumers. As a result, over 40 undercover purchases were made in various stores.

After using municipal laws (including nuisance abatement laws) to shut down the businesses, the city also filed a civil lawsuit to fine the stores' landlords and demand that legitimate businesses be put in place of the counterfeiting businesses.

The message of the initiative is clear: it intends to protect citizens, legitimate tax-paying businesses and the jobs that they created and sustain. Moreover, the mayor wishes to show that New York City will continue such raids until counterfeiting of merchandise is not profitable in such venues.

Brian E Banner, Rothwell Figg Ernst & Manbeck PC, Washington DC

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