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Luxury brand Michael Kors strikes back at Quebec counterfeiters

Michael Kors at The Vogue Festival 2013, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre on April 27, 2013 in London, England.

Olga Bermejo/FilmMagic

Luxury goods maker Michael Kors has taken the unusually bold step of directing street raids against an alleged counterfeit ring in the Montreal area.

Rather than rely on police action, New York-based Kors decided to go it alone after discovering a large number of fake Kors handbags, wallets and other luxury items peddled at various locations in and around Montreal.

"As part of its global program to vigorously enforce its trademark rights and prevent counterfeiting of its brands, Michael Kors has commenced actions against a major network of counterfeit suppliers and vendors, and raided multiple locations throughout the Greater Montreal Area," the company confirmed in an e-mail message.

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News reports say Kors hired private investigation company Sirco to stage raids at 10 locations, including flea markets in Montreal and St-Jérôme, north of the city.

Kors declined to elaborate on the particulars of the clampdown but the Journal de Montréal and CBC published reports Wednesday containing details of the raids.

Sirco president Claude Sarrazin said in an interview Thursday he has not been "mandated" to talk to other news outlets besides those that were authorized.

Any actions taken by Kors fall under civil, and not criminal, jurisprudence.

The Montreal lawyer representing Kors, Mathieu Piché-Messier, was not immediately available to comment on the raids.

Taking civil action against counterfeiters "requires a great deal of investigation and legal work to accomplish," Lorne Lipkus, intellectual property litigator with Toronto-based Kestenberg Siegal Lipkus LLP, said in an e-mail message.

A key part of such actions is to ensure that the evidence is obtained and secured, said Mr. Lipkus, who has acted for dozens of companies in their attempts to attack players in the billion-dollar counterfeit-merchandise business.

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Last year, Vancouver-based Lululemon Athletica Inc. filed a lawsuit in U.S. court against alleged counterfeiters who create websites to sell fake Lululemon yogawear.

Canada Goose Inc. is another Canadian luxury-brand company that is the victim of extensive counterfeiting.

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