Established in Bologna by the Furlanetto family, Furla is an Italian fashion house globally celebrated for its luxury leather handbags and accessories. Dominating the fashion landscape since its conception in 1927, Furla is renowned for investing in sustainable Italian production and nurturing local design talent with the Furla Foundation.
Furla sells its collection in over 50 countries through furla.com and a range of global commercial partners. In 2018, OpSec started protecting Furla’s complete digital supply chain. With Furla’s illustrious heritage, OpSec knew that protecting their brand integrity was paramount. Counterfeit goods could dilute, or worse pollute Furla’s reputation, reduce their revenues, and undermine the value of their luxury products.
In 2020, OpSec uncovered FurlaBee, a bad actor selling a counterfeit handbag on one of Alibaba Group’s web platforms. The bag in question imitated Furla’s iconic Metropolis handbag. Investigations with Furla’s legal team revealed that the counterfeiter had registered FurlaBee as a trademark in France and China.
This made enforcement more complex, as neither the trademark nor the product listings contained Furla’s registered brand name. Even after OpSec sent repeated enforcement notices, FurlaBee continued to infringe and promote the counterfeit product. Legal action would therefore be required to eliminate the persistent criminal network and protect Furla’s brand integrity.
The Chinese Trademark and Patent Office (CNIPA) has stringent requirements needed to take down a counterfeit network. For example, a product design must have overtly unique and distinctive visual features. So, when a bad actor duplicates a design, it must be evident that the fake product is a clear visual copy, rather than a coincidence.
As the repercussions of a negative CNIPA judgement on the design of the Metropolis handbag would be significant, Furla chose not to risk an initial evaluation report. Instead, Furla decided to challenge FurlaBee’s trademarks, intending to use a successful invalidation action to obtain the takedown of the infringing listings.
With automated online brand protection technology, OpSec constantly monitored all websites, marketplaces, and social media channels, detecting counterfeit threats. Meanwhile, OpSec’s Online Pricing Radar ensured that all commercial partners respected the terms of their agreement with Furla.
To build a case against FurlaBee, we used:
OpSec Online Brand Protection technology to scan hundreds of websites, marketplaces, and social media channels and uncover all instances of brand impersonation.
OpSec IP Proxy Monitoring to confirm that the bad actor was located in China and primarily selling via the Alibaba Group marketplaces.
OpSec Visual AI technology to detect multiple product listings using the same image of the counterfeit handbag. This proved the listings had a common culprit: FurlaBee.
Thanks to this comprehensive online coverage, OpSec quickly collated extensive evidence proving FurlaBee’s brand abuse. This data formed the start of a dossier, which Furla’s team used to file an invalidation action against the FurlaBee trademark and the counterfeit products.
In October 2021, CNIPA upheld the invalidation action and deleted the trademark. This meant FurlaBee could no longer promote counterfeit products, and Furla could protect their 93-year brand heritage. OpSec is proud to have supported Furla in eliminating this criminal network and continues to safeguard Furla’s brand integrity today.