Coach Sues City Of Chicago: Suit Claims Vendors Sell Knockoffs On City Streets

05/24/2010 01:59 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Legal or not, knockoff designer handbags seem to be a fixture in big cities. Whether it's New York's Chinatown or a Chicago street market, you can usually score a "Coach" or "Chanel" bag for 20 bucks. Even though the quality doesn't come close, the designers are still trying to fight back. This time, they decided to sue the entire City of Chicago.

In a federal lawsuit filed last week, Coach, known for its high-end leather goods, claimed that Chicago was allowing vendors at the New Maxwell Street Market to sell counterfeit merchandise.

The suit claims that Coach hired an investigator to check out the Maxwell Street Market, which features more than 100 vendors selling various products on the Near West Side. The investigator found several vendors selling Coach and Chanel knockoffs, some were arrested.

WBBM reports:

On December 29, 2009, Coach sent a cease and desist notice to the city of Chicago New Maxwell Street Market, to compel its cooperation in ending the infringing conduct, the suit said. Coach claims the city failed to respond to the notice. On or about February 28, 2010 Coach conducted a follow-up investigation to assess whether the city had complied with Coach's
notice. On that date, Coach canvassed the New Maxwell Street Market and observed a number of vendors who were offering counterfeit Coach products in plain view.

The suit explains that the company spent a lot of time, money and resources developing their brand and their good reputation among consumers. They say that faux handbags damage their reputation, and customers are confused and deceived by the fake merchandise.

Read the full complaint here.