Christian Louboutin, Meta File Suit Against Alleged Counterfeiter

Meta and Christian Louboutin joined forces this week to file a joint lawsuit against an individual allegedly running a counterfeiting operation from Mexico.

According to the suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Thursday, Meta and Louboutin allege that Cesar Octavio Guerrero Alejo violated Meta’s terms of service and Instagram’s terms of use and infringed Christian Louboutin’s intellectual property rights by using Facebook and Instagram accounts to promote the sale of counterfeit Christian Louboutin products.

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In the complaint, Meta and Louboutin claim that since at least June 2020 and continuing until at least May 2023, Cesar Octavio Guerrero Alejo has operated an online business, trafficking in illegal counterfeit goods including fake Louboutin-branded shoes, handbags and accessories, in violation of Meta’s terms.

All told, the lawsuit claims that Alejo created and maintained at least 44 Facebook user accounts from May 3, 2010, through Jan. 11, 2023, as well as at least 32 Instagram accounts from Oct. 15, 2015, through Dec. 28, 2022.

Meta further claimed in the suit that it had previously disabled Alejo’s accounts and removed posts for promoting the sale of counterfeit goods in violation of Meta’s terms, which prohibit violating the intellectual property rights of others.

Despite Meta’s enforcement efforts, the suit added that Alejo continued to use Facebook and Instagram to promote the sale of Louboutin-branded counterfeit goods and the unauthorized use of several of Louboutin’s registered trademarks, including notably: the Christian Louboutin word mark, the Christian Louboutin and Louboutin script signature logo marks and the red sole logo mark.

Alejo was also allegedly caught in the act of selling fake Louboutins, the complaint said.

On May 13, 2023, the lawsuit said, Louboutin’s agent purchased a pair of counterfeit shoes from the defendant advertised on one of his Instagram accounts, “el_oso_shop.” The suit stated that Louboutin’s agent communicated with the defendant through WhatsApp and made payment to the defendant through a Western Union location in the San Francisco area.

Alejo then confirmed receipt of the Western Union payment on the same day, and on May 17 Louboutin’s agent received a DHL shipment at its San Francisco address with a return address from Culiacán, Sinaloa, in Mexico. The shipment contained a box with a pair of shoes in a white cloth bag with multiple references to “Christian Louboutin.” The shoes were deemed counterfeit upon receipt.

Both Meta and Louboutin are asking the court to permanently block Alejo from continuing his operation and order him to destroy all remaining inventory. The two plaintiffs are also seeking restitution and damages.

In a joint blog post on Thursday, Jessica Romero, director and associate general counsel of litigation at Meta, and Mark Fiore, director and associate general counsel of IP at Meta, wrote that the company continues to ensure that its platforms remain safe for people and businesses to connect, share and buy and sell together.

“This lawsuit is a clear signal to those who would seek to engage in similar abuses that this behavior will not be tolerated,” Romero and Fiore wrote. “Meta and Christian Louboutin plan to continue their enforcement efforts against counterfeiting and hold those who abuse our policies accountable. We also remain committed to offering businesses product solutions and resources to protect their brands, and we also know that cross-industry collaboration is a critical part of tackling counterfeits on our platforms.”

This case is the latest example of Meta taking action and litigation against counterfeiters. Meta first collaborated on a similar type of intellectual property infringement case with Gucci in 2021 and continues to partner with stakeholders on brand protection measures.

In the second half of 2022, Meta said it has removed more than 1.7 million pieces of content on Facebook and Instagram in response to more than 180,000 counterfeit reports, and more than 115 million pieces of content before it was reported to the company by a rights holder.

As for Louboutin, the company said in the lawsuit that it continues to work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other law enforcement agencies to coordinate seizures of counterfeit Louboutin-branded merchandise. Recent busts include the seizure of 185 Louboutin-branded items coming from China on Dec. 9, 2022; 65 items coming from Bulgaria on Oct. 19, 2022; 960 items coming from China on Sept. 9, 2022; and a raid, with the help of local authorities, leading to the recovery of 83,800 packed items from China on June 16, 2022.

In May, Louboutin filed a lawsuit against Vinci Leather for allegedly infringing upon the French luxury label’s famous shoe designs.

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