Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cannot fool me

It seems that fakes have a way of popping up everywhere I go these days, as if taunting me.

On a pleasant Thursday afternoon, my best friend and I were shopping in a high end boutique on Long Island. More in the mood to browse than purchase, we chatted as we made our way around the small store. A saleswoman in her late 40's (early 50's with good night cream perhaps) locked her eyes on us once we rounded the final corner and headed for the jewelery counter. Noticing the ring display, I pointed to a faux-diamond eternity band and told my friend how much it resembled the Tiffany Swing band. (Though several of Tiffany's collections, such as Legacy, 1837, and Jazz, are registered trademarks, the Swing design is not registered, but clearly recognizable and clearly a Tiffany original creation). Upon closer inspection I could see the ring in the boutique not only resembled the Swing ring, but was an actual knock off of the ring, as evidenced by the description reading 'Tiffany ring' on the base of the display. "I see this is supposed to be the Tiffany design," I said to the saleswoman with a partial sneer. The woman then informed my friend and me that "this is my design, Tiffany copied me." The ill-informed woman began telling a tale about a trip to Canal Street (keep in mind the woman has no idea where we live, what we do or anything) and a fabulous discovery of new 'merchandise.'

Deciding it was about time to stop the charade of letting this pushy woman think she was selling us on her craft, I 'blew up her spot' as they say. Much to the woman's dismay, I told her I actually studied intellectual property law, specifically as it relates to fashion and design. I mentioned that I worked last summer on a case helping a small New York City designer defend against an infringement suit by a large international company. I then told her how truly sad it is when people think they can sell or make knock offs that are nothing more than a pale, poor, paltry imitation of another's creation. The woman looked like a dog with its tail between her legs, and being far too aggressive for such defeat, she merely swept a piece of errant hair that had crept over her cheek and dismissed me as some sort of snob. (Pot calling the kettle black? Who is the one who preaches Tiffany stole her design that she purchased on Canal Street?)

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