Several people believe that fashion cannot be protected by copyright law, but there are several laws that prohibit the sale of counterfeit goods, including the Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act, the Trademark Counterfeiting Act of 1984 and the Anticounterfeiting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA). However, the New York Post reported on April 7 that Councilwoman Margaret Chin introduced a bill that would make it a crime to buy counterfeit goods as well.
Chin told the Post that the New York City Police Department seized more than 1,000 fake bags from an underground shop last month. She added that “label lovers, aided by city guidebooks and tour buses” are well aware that they are buying counterfeit products. “People are worried that some innocent middle-aged woman might unwittingly purchase a [counterfeit] bag,” Chin told the Post. “If you go into a back room, basement or van, you probably know what you’re doing is not legal.”
This effort comes two years after Chin introduced a similar measure that proposed a $1,000 fine and the possibility of one year in jail for buying counterfeit handbags. Chin’s district includes Chinatown, the neighborhood featured in the Sahara TV video. “If you want to get these name-brand knock-offs at a cheap price, you go to Chinatown,” Chin told the Post. “It’s always illegal for people to sell, but it’s not illegal for the people who buy this stuff. Hopefully, this law will cut down on the demand.”
Bill Would Make Purchase of Counterfeit Trademarks Illegal
The prohibition section of Chin’s proposed bill notes:
No person shall purchase a tangible item containing a counterfeit trademark when such person knows or should have known such trademark is counterfeit for reasons including, but not limited to, the quality and price of the purchased item, and/or the condition of the seller and the sale location.
When Chin proposed the similar bill in 2011, New Jersey resident Cabrina Whitam told the New York Times that she was willing to go into whatever Chinatown backrooms she had to enter to find a good deal. “I don’t believe in child labor and I don’t believe in supporting terrorists, but if I want to buy a knockoff, that’s my business,” Whitam said. “Six years ago, I bought a ‘Rolex’ watch, and it still works. Never even changed the battery.”
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