Swiss Customs Authorities Impound Over 5,000 Counterfeit Watches

Counterfeit Watch Store


by John Sealander  

The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry Continues to Fight
Counterfeiting With a Record Seizure at the Zurich Airport

Forgeries have been a major problem within the watch industry for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, recent advances in technology have made the problem even worse. In today’s world, it is easier than ever to make realistic copies of famous designs. Swiss watchmakers are being hit particularly hard by counterfeiting, since a flood of fake watches undermines the well-deserved reputation for innovation, perfection and expertise that the words “Swiss Made” represent.

To combat the growing counterfeiting problem, The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry has mounted an aggressive effort to identify counterfeiters and seize the fraudulent goods they produce.

On September 30, 2013 the Federation announced that customs officers at Switzerland’s Zurich International Airport had impounded more than 5,000 fake watches in one of the largest postal seizures ever made in Switzerland. Between August and September 2013, customs officials impounded nearly 9,000 counterfeit items, including more than 5,000 watches. The counterfeit goods were initially shipped in a number of consignments, all originating from the same source in Greece. The fake watches were in transit to Spain and Portugal, and could have ultimately entered the American market.

Vigilance Required

According to watch industry insider and Gevril Group founder Samuel Friedmann, these new seizures by Swiss authorities make it more important than ever to be vigilant when purchasing a fine timepiece. “You need to always make sure you know who you are buying from,” says Friedmann. “There are many reputable retailers, but it doesn’t hurt to be careful. The more desirable the timepiece, the more people who are going to try to copy it.”

With watches continuing to grow in popularity as essential fashion accessories, the incentive for counterfeiters to sell their fakes is expected to continue unabated. The sad truth is that as long as people continue to buy cheap copies of their favorite luxury watch brands, somebody will continue making them.

Be a Part of the Solution

A number of international studies have already demonstrated clear links between organized crime and counterfeiting. “Anyone who loves fine watches needs to help combat the counterfeiting problem by never knowingly purchasing counterfeit goods,” says Mr. Friedmann. “There is real value in the expertise and craftsmanship that goes into the production of a genuine Swiss watch and we need to do everything we can to preserve that value.”

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupGevril Group is the exclusive US representative for select European watch brands, distributing and servicing luxury, fashion and sports timepieces at a wide range of price points. Gevril Group also operates a full-service watch repair department staffed by master Swiss watchmakers. Contact Gevril Group by email or by calling 845-425-9882.

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The Tiffany Setting: Trademark, or Generic Term?

A 'Tiffany Setting' Engagement Ring


by John Sealander  

Has the World’s Favorite Engagement Ring Style
Finally Achieved “Kleenex Status?”

When Charles Lewis Tiffany was looking for a ring with more “shine” he ended up inventing the world’s favorite engagement ring style. Before the arrival of the Tiffany setting in 1886, all diamonds were set in a bezel, so only the crown was visible. To expose more of the diamond’s surface and enhance the stone’s sparkle, Tiffany and the company’s gemologists developed a new type of setting using several raised claws designed to hold a diamond securely while exposing much more of the stone for viewing.

This new style of setting, called “the most brilliant ring ever” by fans, quickly became the world’s favorite type of engagement ring. The ubiquitous Tiffany Setting is now so popular that it is used colloquially throughout the jewelry industry to describe any multi-pronged solitaire ring setting. Although many now think the term Tiffany Setting has reached “Kleenex status” and become a generic part of the language, Tiffany & Company does not agree.

When Does A Brand Name Become A Generic Term?

The issue of whether the word “Tiffany” is now a generic term for these popular ring settings has now reached a New York federal judge. Tiffany & Company has sued discount giant Costco for selling counterfeit rings that it claims are falsely advertised as Tiffany. Costco denies the claim, saying that the company never intended to sell “Tiffany rings,” only unbranded rings having a generic Tiffany style setting. “Our rings have no brand name embossed on them, are returnable at Costco, and come with a Costco appraisal,” said a Costco spokesperson. To bolster their claim, Costco has point out that popular books like Wedding Planning for Dummies and Dictionary of Gems and Gemology, as well as advertisements from many retailers already use the term “Tiffany setting” generically.

Tiffany & Company still thinks that the setting invented by company founder Charles Lewis Tiffany is theirs and theirs alone. “When Costco used the Tiffany trademark to refer to goods that had nothing whatsoever to do with Tiffany & Company, they infringed Tiffany’s trademark, while damaging both their own customers and the Tiffany brand,” said company spokeswoman Linda Buckley.

Litigation as a Form of Manipulation

Did Costco customers really think they were buying a Tiffany ring? Or is this just another frivolous lawsuit designed to preserve the stature of the luxury jeweler? Our language is constantly evolving. Many brands and slogans that were once exclusive to a manufacturer have become generic trademarks. Can you imagine not being able to use the term Band Aid, Frisbee, Kitty Litter, Thermos, Kleenex, Ping Pong, Velcro, and Q-Tip? These are all popular brand names that have become generic as a result of their popularity and widespread use. Will the term “Tiffany setting” become the next to join the growing list of names that have simply become part of the language? Costco says the term has already become generic. Tiffany & Company disagrees. Now it’s up to a judge to decide. One thing is certain. This law suit provides for many people another good example of excessive litigation in the United States.

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupGevril Group is the exclusive US representative for select European watch brands, distributing and servicing luxury, fashion and sports timepieces at a wide range of price points. Gevril Group also operates a full-service watch repair department staffed by master Swiss watchmakers.

Please subscribe to the Gevril Group newsletter and blog updates. Reader comments are welcome.

Tiffany Sends Costco an Expensive Valentine

Tiffany Ring


by John Sealander  

Tiffany Accuses Costco of Engaging in Selling
Counterfeit Tiffany Engagement Rings

On February 14, 2013 luxury retailer Tiffany and Company filed suit against Costco Wholesale Corporation for engaging in selling counterfeit diamond Tiffany engagement rings at their Huntington Beach, California store. A customer alerted Tiffany that the discount giant had been selling diamond engagement rings clearly marked by in-store signage as “Tiffany.” A subsequent investigation revealed that the rings in question, one marked platinum Tiffany .70 cts. VS2 round and the other marked Tiffany VS2 1 ct. round were not Tiffany rings at all.

It is believed that hundreds, if not thousands, of Costco customers may still think they purchased a genuine Tiffany ring from Costco, since the retailer has apparently been selling different styles of rings for many years that it falsely identified on in-store signage as ‘Tiffany. “This is not the kind of behavior people expect from a company like Costco,” said Tiffany lawyer Jeffrey Mitchell. “Everyone knows that buying something on a street corner or over the Internet from an unknown source is risky. Until now, no one would have thought it could be risky to buy brand name merchandise from Costco as well.”

The Tiffany lawsuit seeks at least $2 million in damages, an injunction against Costco from using the Tiffany name, and asks Costco to “publicly admit its misconduct” to all customers who bought any rings labeled as “Tiffany.”

None of the rings identified at the Huntington Beach store as “Tiffany” were, in fact, genuine Tiffany rings. They were not manufactured by Tiffany. They were not approved by, licensed by, or in any way associated with Tiffany, according to the legal papers filed on Valentine’s Day in New York federal court.

Counterfeit Goods in the Luxury Industry

The luxury goods industry has always had problems with counterfeiting. Usually these counterfeit items are sold on street corners or over the Internet. Never before has a reputable retailer been accused of selling counterfeit goods in their own stores. The lesson for anyone thinking about purchasing luxury items like jewelry or watches is that it is still important to know where the merchandise comes from. It is always safest to buy directly from the manufacturer or one of their authorized representatives. If you don’t buy from an authorized source, you can never be sure of what you are getting.

Every year, luxury “fakes” get harder and harder to detect. That’s why it is more important than ever to buy rings, jewelry, watches, and other luxury items from a reputable source. To view Gevril Group’s list of authorized jewelers and fine watch dealers, visit the company’s Where to Buy web page. This page is not a fake! It’s simply the best way to find an authorized jeweler or watch dealer in your area.

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupGevril Group is the exclusive US representative for select European watch brands, distributing and servicing luxury, fashion and sports timepieces at a wide range of price points. Gevril Group also operates a full-service watch repair department staffed by master Swiss watchmakers.

Please subscribe to the Gevril Group newsletter and blog updates. Reader comments are welcome.

Federal Agents Shut Down Scores of Counterfeit Websites

Counterfeit Watches Seized in 2009 by the Gresham, Oregon Police Department

by John Sealander  

Counterfeit Watches have been a Problem for Centuries
But Now They’re Being Sold through Counterfeit Websites

Forgeries of fine watches have been a serious problem since the eighteenth century, when German watchmakers started producing watches falsely signed with the names of well-known English makers such as George Graham and Eardley Norton. In the nineteenth century, renowned names like Breguet became popular targets for forgers. Today, the problem is worldwide, with an estimated 40 million counterfeit watches coming on the market each year.

What many people may not realize is that one of the most popular ways of selling counterfeit watches today is through the use of counterfeit websites. Some of these fake websites so closely resemble the official websites of famous brands that it is virtually impossible for even the most discerning customer to tell the difference. To make the problem even worse, the replicas being sold on these websites have become so realistic that they are being sold for the full retail price. Customers sometimes don’t even know they have bought a fake until it is time to send their watch in for servicing.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency has become increasingly concerned about the growing problem of counterfeit websites. Recently, Federal agents seized and shut down 70 websites that were illegally selling sophisticated counterfeit merchandise, including popular luxury watches. Some of the websites seized in this sting were so sophisticated that they even used SSL certificates, which are generally used to safeguard financial information.

According to watch industry insider and Gevril Group founder Samuel Friedmann, “We must do more to fight this threat. Counterfeit websites should be reported to authorities, and buyers should be vigilant when purchasing a fine timepiece online.

“Make sure you know who you’re buying from,” says Friedmann. “While there are many reputable online retailers, it’s still very important to be careful. The more desirable the timepiece, the more it will be copied.”

The 70 domain names recently seized by Federal agents bring the total number of Internet domains seized by the ICE in the last two years to 837. With a problem of this magnitude, perhaps the safest way to buy a fine timepiece is to go to a trusted quality jeweler or watch store. To view Gevril Group’s list of authorized fine watch dealers, visit the company’s Where to Buy web page. This page is not a fake! It’s simply the best way to find an authorized watch dealer in your area.

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupGevril Group is the exclusive US representative for select European watch brands, distributing and servicing luxury, fashion and sports timepieces at a wide range of price points. Gevril Group also operates a full-service watch repair department staffed by master Swiss watchmakers.

Please subscribe to the Gevril Group newsletter and blog updates. Reader comments are welcome.