Introduction to Valentino Garavani’s Problem
Founded in 1960 by Valentino Garavani and Giancarlo Giammetti, Valentino is one of most well-known fashion houses in the world. With Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli awarded the prestigious ‘Designer of the Year’ award at the 2020 CFDA Awards, Valentino is a major player in the luxury division. Trend-setting fashion will always invite imitation. However, Valentino Garavani noticed cheap, counterfeited items had entered their supply chain, putting their brand, revenue and safety of their loyal customer base at risk.
For brands across the luxury goods market, brand protection is of paramount concern. These high value brands with iconic designs can often find themselves a target for online bad actors who make up the $460 billion counterfeit goods industry. A cornerstone of its collections, Valentino Garavani’s Rockstud range of shoes have sold out every year since their debut in 2010 and generated over $152 million in sales between 2014 and 2019 alone.
Thanks to Valentino’s ongoing relationship with OpSec Online dating back to 2015, the fashion house has been able to tackle brand infringements head on through various online platforms and within their supply chain of distributors. Most notably, Valentino Garavani worked with both OpSec and Amazon to hold a prolific counterfeiter to account.
Threats to Valentino’s Rockstud Iconic Design
In February 2019, OpSec’s online monitoring solutions alerted Valentino’s legal department to a new online threat present to their brand. They identified several listings on Amazon platforms featuring shoes that were identical to the protected Rockstud design. The unauthorized listings contained cheap imitations of the finely crafted Rockstud, a problem that could quickly ruin the faithful Rockstud wearers.
By working together, Valentino’s legal team approached Amazon to prove that its brand was being misused on the website. Equipped with the initial data regarding the infringements, Valentino shared the details with Amazon, allowing them to identify the seller of the counterfeit goods as the anonymous user Jing Li or Kaitlyn Pan.
Following this, OpSec’s Shanghai team located additional information on the online presence of the seller – including its business license. After thorough investigations, additional listings were identified as infringing. The contact details of the seller were found on Taobao, an online marketplace and part of the Alibaba Group. This combination of information provided the basis for further offline investigations into how the brand was being misused by Kaitlyn Pan.
Regarding how OpSec effectively solved their problem, the Valentino Garavani legal team had this to say: “Armed with the knowledge of the seller provided by OpSec, we were able to facilitate a test purchase of the counterfeit goods by our law firm, Arent Fox LLP. OpSec then helped us target all of the brand infringements relating to the Rockstud design it had identified on social media, websites and auction sites, including Instagram, Facebook, Taobao, and eBay.”
Understanding how the Valentino Garavani brand was being misused and by whom, Arent Fox was able to send a cease-and-desist letter to Kaitlyn Pan, which stated:
- Immediately discontinue the unauthorized use of the Rockstud designs, including by ceasing all manufacturing and sale of the infringing shoes and removing the infringing shoes from your website(s), Amazon.com, social media pages, and all other sales and marketing channels;
- Provide the details, including company name, contact name, address, and telephone number of your supplier and/or manufacturer (if different) of the infringing shoes; and
- Undertake to not engage in any future unlawful use of Valentino Garavani’s intellectual property, including, but not limited to, the Rockstud designs and any confusingly similar design elements.
Taking Legal Action Alongside Amazon
After liaising with OpSec about the brand infringements it had detected on its website, Amazon reached out to the Valentino Garavani legal team about progressing its case against Kaitlyn Pan.
Valentino Garavani’s legal team worked with the Amazon IP Crime Unit and filed a joint lawsuit against Kaitlyn Pan Group, LLC and New York resident Hao Pan for counterfeiting the brand’s iconic Rockstud shoes. Thanks to insight provided by OpSec, Valentino Garavani could pinpoint that the Kaitlyn Pan Group, LLC was offering the infringing products for sale on its own website as well as Amazon, which is in violation of Amazon’s policies and Valentino’s intellectual property rights.
How Valentino Continues to Protect its Brand
With the continuous support of OpSec, Valentino Garavani can successfully carry out online brand protection on online platforms. This has had a profound effect, enabling the removal of more than 249,000 listings selling counterfeit Valentino Garavani products across several marketplaces, more than 3,700 websites and over 16,000 social media accounts. These removals have minimized the risk of customers being deceived into buying fake products, as Valentino Garavani can ensure its customers only ever receive authentic products and the high quality of service associated with its brand.
When asked how this powerful capability, Valentino Garavani’s legal team added, “The swift enforcement action means Kaitlyn Pan is no longer an active threat to the Valentino brand, but we’re very aware of the continued presence of counterfeiters. Working with OpSec gives us peace of mind that we’ll be able to catch any new threats early and be able to swiftly take the appropriate action to shut these counterfeiters down. The damage these bad actors do to the fashion industry is staggering, so protecting our brand remains of vital importance.”
OpSec Security prides itself on the superior and ongoing service it provides to Valentino Garavani and others in the fashion industry. OpSec remains committed to ensuring that consumers can safely purchase and enjoy authentic products. For more information on how OpSec’s forward-thinking technology and end-to-end solutions could play a vital role in safeguarding your brand’s products, reputation and revenue, get in touch today.