Company says arrests resulted from vigilant enforcement of trademark protections.
Authorities raided three shoe importers and distributors in the East Los Angeles area in September and seized nearly 50,000 pairs of counterfeit Vans. The product seized had a retail value estimated at 2.35-million dollars. The raid also resulted in the arrest of the three owners of the shoe importers.
Vans attorneys and a hired investigation firm presented the evidence to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department that led to the arrests and seizures. Information obtained in the investigation and arrests indicate that the three defendants were importing and distributing footwear, which while not bearing the word Vans, carried side-stripe and outsole designs that are registered trademarks of Vans, Inc.
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, Vans attorneys 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 the trademarked side-stripes and waffle outsole design, from unauthorized copying and sale. 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 filed by Vans attorneys.