Louis Vuitton, the manufacturer of expensive handbags carried by thousands of people who usually cannot afford to do so, is asking a Florida court to put the hurt on hundreds of websites that sell knock-off Vitton products. Their targets: louiszvuitton.com, knockofflouisvuittonhandbags.com, and any other company that makes its money selling cheap imitations of their beloved products.
However, Vitton isn’t just asking for authorities to crack down on the sale of illegal merchandise. They want companies such as Blue Host and Go Daddy to shut down these sites entirely. Furthermore, they’d love for search engines to exclude this sort of content from their respective databases. This sort of mentality is eerily similar to the doomed legislation known as Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
Chanel successfully attempted the same maneuvers in Nevada last fall. A federal judge handed out injunctions that forced registrars and search engines to comply with any and all enforcements. Apparently Vuitton hopes that the same outcome will be reached in Florida.
If this sort of behavior becomes the norm, you can expect other companies to follow suit. In fact, the FBI and Homeland Security seized nearly 150 websites in 2011 as part of their “Operation In Our Sites” campaign. Websites that were known to sell counterfeit merchandise were effectively shut down, their content replaced with anti-piracy propaganda. What’s odd is that some of these sites contain the “downloading movies is bad” messages despite having little or nothing to do with Hollywood or the film industry as a whole.