by Rodrigo Borges Carneiro
May 30, 2003
In Louis Vuitton Distribuição Ltda v Caliente Comércio de Modas (unreported), a panel of the Superior Court of Justice has ordered the defendant, a vendor of counterfeit LOUIS VUITTON merchandise, to pay the plaintiff both economic and moral damages – the total amount to be determined by the lower court.
Caliente Comércio de Modas is a store that is established in Rio de Janeiro’s most famous shopping mall. When Caliente was discovered in 1998 to be selling fake LOUIS VUITTON marked handbags, Louis Vuitton Distribuição filed an action for trademark infringement. The local distributor of luxury merchandise argued that the famous LOUIS VUITTON mark had been damaged as had the French parent company’s goodwill.
In an opinion given by Justice Nancy Andrighi, the Superior Court, applying the Industrial Property Law, ruled in favour of Louis Vuitton. Significantly, the court awarded Louis Vuitton both economic and moral damages. The economic damages, which have yet to be determined by the lower court, were awarded because, by selling counterfeit products at a fraction of the price of legitimate goods, Caliente had detrimentally affected the number of legitimate goods sold. Moral damages in the amount of $4,000 were awarded because the value of the LOUIS VUITTON mark had been damaged.