Los Angeles County Sheriff Seizes Estimated $2.35 Million in Counterfeit VANS Footwear; Nearly 50,000 Pairs of Trademark-Infringing Footwear Seized in Three Separate Raids
SANTA FE SPRINGS, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Oct, 2001–Vans, Inc. (Nasdaq:VANS), the leading worldwide brand for Core Sports(TM), today announced the raid of three shoe importers and distributors in the East Los Angeles area and seizure of nearly 50,000 pairs of counterfeit versions of VANS footwear.
The product seized had a retail value estimated at $2.35 million. The raid, which took place on Sept. 20, also resulted in the arrest of the three owners of the shoe importers and is the result of Vans’ efforts to vigorously protect its trademarks worldwide.
After an investigation led by Harley Lewin and Greg Nylen of Greenberg Traurig, a national law firm, and with IPEC Investigations, a Los Angeles-based investigative firm, evidence was presented to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department leading to the arrests and seizures. Information obtained by reason of the investigation and arrests indicate that the three defendants were importing and distributing footwear which, although not bearing the word VANS, carried side-stripe and outsole designs which are registered trademarks of Vans, Inc., and which, in the opinion of the company, as well as the authorities, were virtual copies of authentic VANS shoes.
The shoes seized were being imported and distributed by the defendants throughout the Southern California area, Mexico and Latin America. At the same time the arrests and seizures were being carried out, the Greenberg Traurig firm filed civil lawsuits against all the defendants for damages resulting from the defendants’ widespread activities.
Vans’ Vice-President and General Counsel, Craig E. Gosselin, indicated that this action was part of Vans’ overall effort to protect some of its most valuable assets, including its trademarked side-stripes and waffle outsole design, from unauthorized copying and sale. According to Gosselin, “The word VANS and our side-stripes and waffle outsole are valuable trademarks that consumers have come to identify with the authentic style, design and quality they have come to expect from Vans.”
Gosselin added, “We are thankful for the actions of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and our counsel and investigators in working so quickly to rectify this situation.”
During the raid, search warrants were served at Mike’s Shoes, Peter Shoes and Lightning Shoes in South El Monte, located east of Los Angeles. Once the locations were secured, investigators searched for counterfeit Vans product as well as financial documents indicating that the trademark-infringing products were targeted for resale. Chen Chun Fen, owner of Mike’s Shoes, Yuguan Wu, owner of Lightning Shoes, and Lan Quing Zhang, owner of Peter Shoes, were each arrested and taken into custody for violation of California Penal Code 350. The suspects were served with civil litigation complaints that were filed earlier in the day by Greenberg Traurig on behalf of Vans.
Lewin stated that “we could not be more pleased with the effort of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. This is only one of a continuing series of actions that Vans has taken and will continue to take to protect all of its trademarks from unauthorized copying. We intend to see this situation through to its rightful conclusion.”
Vans is a leading worldwide brand for Core Sports(TM) specializing in performance and lifestyle footwear, apparel, snowboard boots and bindings. Its contributions to Core Sports include the Vans Triple Crown(TM) Series, the operation of nine large-scale Vans Skateparks, the High Cascade Snowboard Camp(TM) and majority ownership of the Vans Warped Tour(R) and the Vans World Amateur Skateboarding Championships(TM). Vans collections are sold in the United States through 148 company-owned stores and factory outlets as well as a network of independent retailers. Vans also distributes to more than 50 countries internationally through distributors, sales agents and its subsidiaries in the United Kingdom, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.