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Buy a Fake Purse in NYC? Face Jail, $1K Fine

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on April 29, 2011 10:01 AM

Councilwoman Margaret Chin might just be the newly minted least favorite person of New York's budget fashionistas.

The politician, who oversees New York's Chinatown, has introduced city legislation that makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly buy fake designer purses, punishing offenders with a $1,000 fine and/or a year in jail.

Chinatown's Canal Street is known for housing a cottage industry of fake designer purses, sunglasses, watches, and other high-end wares. It's where the broke go when the going gets tough and they need a little fashion pick me up.

But Councilwoman Margaret Chin wants to change that image, reports The New York Times.

Instead of having a reputation for quality designer knockoffs, she wants tourists to flock to New York's Chinatown so that they can experience the unique culture it offers.

And so that they can purchase authentic Chinese goods.

New Yorkers don't seem to be too fond of Chin's assault on fake designer purses. Many feel that the actual designers aren't hurt, as people who purchase knockoffs cannot afford the real thing, reports the New York Post. Vendors are also concerned about their income.

Whatever you may think about fake designer purses, Councilwoman Margaret Chin is technically only trying to enforce the law.

Designer knockoffs infringe intellectual property rights and their sale is illegal under federal and state law. Knowingly purchasing one makes a person complicit in that theft.

It still remains to be seen just how New York is going to enforce the knockoff ban, given that The New York Times reports that the city already spends $1 billion a year fighting counterfeit goods without much success.

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