By Ron Alvarez
Title: PUERTO RICANS IN PARIS—Released June 10, 2016
Two NYPD counterfeit detective specialists (of Puerto Rican descent) get a visit from a Paris handbag designer (Collette) and her associate at the precinct. They explain that one of only two handbags she has designed under her brand, “Collette”, has been stolen. If they do not pay a ransom of 1 million euros, the thieves have threatened to flood the market with fakes before the real handbag goes retail. The two scrappy and overweight detectives are allegedly the best IP investigative team the NYPD has to offer, and are invited to Paris to find the stolen handbag and apprehend the thief.
It’s a good storyline when you consider fashion handbag designers are generally encouraged to register the shapes and designs of their bags to protect them from infringers.
In a recent article published in Fashion Law titled, “Intellectual Property is an Enormous Asset in the Fashion Industry (June 3, 2016), “Many high fashion houses often overlook the registration of the shape and look of their designs, reasoning that goods such as handbags are considered to have a short product life cycle – often no more than six-to-twelve months. While fashion trends may come and go, some designs stay timeless and are considered classic pieces. For example, the “Kelly” bag from Hermès grew to fame in 1956, when the Hollywood actress Grace Kelly married Prince Ranier III of Monaco and was photographed with the bag. It became known as the “Kelly” bag thereafter (although it was only formally re-named as such in 1977) and is seen by many as the ultimate classic handbag in any fashionista’s closet. Many fashion houses strive to create such classic design pieces. If the design succeeds and if the designer has not obtained the appropriate design protection in time, infringers will be able to copy their designs.
GENUINELY RAISES AWARENESS TO THE COUNTERFEITING PROBLEM
The film does a nice job of raising awareness to the counterfeiting/IP theft problem not only with the main plot, but by inserting scenes that effectively detail some other counterfeiting strategies.
The opening scene, for example, takes place on Canal Street in New York City. Texas tourists pile out of a van clearly marked, “Lakewood Church of God in Christ.” A person standing out front of a typical, narrow, merchandise-packed street cubicle has just bellowed, “Gucci, Rolex!” A couple saddles up to him and ask if he happens to have Louis Vuitton.
They are escorted to a rear office where they meet Mr. Big (my description) who pulls out a Louis Vuitton handbag, places it on his desk and says “$200.00.” But the Texas couple wants to purchase 20 bags to bring back home. Mr. Big is happy to oblige, drops the price to $175., and brings them to the entrance of a warehouse at which point one of the detectives asks why the cross-stitching on the bag is not consistent with the Louis Vuitton designer code.
That question inspires Mr. Big to flee, but is apprehended after a short foot chase down a few lower-Manhattan streets. The couple, of course, are NYPD detectives (Texas drawls and all!)
Immediately following the arrest, a TV newswoman on the street interviews one of the detectives. The report is titled, “FAKE BAGS REAL PROBLEMS.” The detective explains that the proceeds of counterfeiting go to funding illegal manufacturing of drugs, human trafficking, and terrorism.
Another comical and informative scene involves a meeting between the two detectives (posing as South American coffee producers) and one of four persons they suspect may have stolen the”Collette” bag. One detective presents the suspect with what appears to be gold Rolex, and asks what it is? The suspect responds, “Rolex.” The detective responds that it’s a fake, with a 4,000 percent profit. He explains that he had it made in China for $2.50 and sells them over the Internet for $200. In another scene the detectives are dressed as Saudi Arabian princes.
The sub-plot weaves into comical personal marital (girlfriend) challenges for the two detectives, (who also happen to be brothers-in-law), but counterfeiting and IP theft is what drives the film.
I’d encourage IP professionals, or any person interested in the IP crime problem, to watch this comical and informative film. It sincerely does a service for our industry by raising overall awareness to the issue in an entertaining way.
PUERTO RICANS IN PARIS
Executive Producer Armando Christian Perez
By the way, to my knowledge, the film is not currently in any theaters, but can be streamed. I had no problem watching the film through Amazon Video over the weekend.
Special thanks to Mentor IP law firm in Bangladesh for attaching the Fashion Law article link to their LinkedIn page.
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