Could You Go to Jail For Buying a Knockoff Coach Bag?

Susan Scafidi in The Atlanta Post, April 27, 2011

Media Source

By Brittany Hutson

For those who crave to have a $2,200 Louis Vutton handbag but can’t bear the dent it will put in their wallet, buying a knockoff on Canal Street in Manhattan may be the next best option they will settle for.

Unfortunately for the state of New York, the public’s fixation with knockoff bags has caused them to lose near $1 billion in tax revenue, so city lawmakers have decided to strike back. Recently, City Councilwoman Margaret Chin proposed a bill that will induce consequences for those who can’t resist the purchase of counterfeit designer goods. Under the new bill, those caught can either face up to a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.

“I urge visitors that come to New York to come for the authenticity, not to buy these fake bags or electronics,” Chin said. “We have local designers that create unique items at affordable prices, and they’re available. So don’t just come here for the knockoffs.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, a 2004 report conducted by then-city Comptroller William Thompson found that about 8 percent of the approximately $287 billion in counterfeit goods sold in the United States annually is sold in New York City.

Although it is already illegal to sell fake designer goods, if this bill passes, New York will be the first U.S. city to criminalize those who purchase these items, said Susan Scafidi, head of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University.