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The Perils of Canal Street, Online

Canalhandbags_1East Coast entrepreneur Brian Albert has launched StreetPeddler.com, which promises to bring the watches, toys, sunglasses and handbags of Canal Street - an infamous spot for buying knockoff merchandise, according to Citysearch - to online audiences around the globe.

The picture to the left - which is prominently featured on the home page of StreetPeddler.com - reminds me of all the quite illegal versions of Takashi Murakami's work for Louis Vuitton. Sure, Takashi is going to keep satisfying the discriminating buyer with new designs like his Monogram Cerises collaboration with Marc Jacobs, but in the meantime, this is a practice that causes American industries alone to lose somewhere between 200 and 250 billion dollars each year.

In a New York Times interview, Brian makes a point of saying, "You can buy imitation things on the streets of New York, but obviously that's illegal and we don't do it." However, his site contains the following disclaimer for handbags:

"...We do not represent our handbags to be authentic, original, or genuine to any registered designer brand labels or their copyrighted products, nor do we represent that they are exact copies; as such they do not violate any copyright laws. We only state that they are comparable in appearance to the designer brand handbags."

The site then goes on to mention specific brands: Adidas, Anarchy , Angel Anne Klein, Armani, Arnette, Aztec, Barracuda , Baume & Mercier, Birkin, Bulova, Burberry, Black Fly, Bolle, Breliteng, Brighton, Briko, Bucci, Bvgalri, Calvin Klein, Carla Mancini, Carrera, Cartier, Cebe, Chanel, Chloe, Christian Dior, Coach, Concord, Coyote, Diesel, Divine, DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana, Dooney & Bourke, Dragon, Eddie Bauer, ESQ, Fendi, Fila, Fossil, Francesco Biasia, Frank Muller, Gargoyle, Givenchi, Goat, Graffiti, Gucci, Guess, Hamilton, Harley Davidson, Hobie, Hugo Boss, Ice Tech, Isabella Fiore, J.P. Tods, Kate Spade, Kenneth Cole, Killer Loop, Lacoste, Liz Claiborne, Louis Vuitton, Longines, Maui Jim, Miu-Miu, Marc Jacobs, Mont Blanc, Moschimo, Mossimo, Movado, Native, Nautica, Nike, Oakley, Perry Ellis, Persol, Piaget, Polo, Porsche, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Rado, Ray-Ban, Reebok, Revo, Rolex, Omega, Roxy, Salvatore Ferragamo, Seiko, Serengetti, Skagen, Spy, Sutji, SWI, Tacchini, Tag Heur, Timberland, Tommy Girl, Tommy Hillfiger, Van Cleef and Arpels, Versace, Vuarnet, Wegner, Wiley X, Wittnaur, Yves St Lauren, and X-Loop.

Wow.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you represent those brands, this represents yet another site besides eBay that you will need to monitor vigilantly.

If Mr. Albert were serious about addressing the counterfeiting problem, his site could adopt a stronger stance on the problem of counterfeiting and do a better job of educating the public on how to spot a fraud. It's not hard.

Link: New York Times review of StreetPeddler.com (registration required)

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