Some 87 retailers and wholesalers doing business in Puerto Rico that were sued in late August for selling counterfeit Romero Britto items are facing what could be significant finds for not coming forward to negotiate, the lead attorney in the pop artist’s lawsuit, Dora Peñagarícano, told News is my Business.
The group, which is more than half of the 170 parties sued in August, has been declared in default for its unwillingness to negotiate, and must now face U.S. District Court Judge Gustavo Gelpí — who is “fast-tracking” the case — during a damages hearing scheduled for Dec. 29 at the Hato Rey court, Peñagarícano said.
“The judge granted our motion for entry of default and entered default against 87 defendants,” Peñagarícano said.
Because the defendants did not come forth to negotiate, they now face the possibility of paying up to $150,000 per violation, or a fine for each counterfeit purse, t-shirt, mug or keychain bearing Britto’s bright and colorful copyrighted designs that they had in stock.
During a hearing late last week, Peñagarícano informed the judge that of the 170 parties named in the lawsuit, five have signed settlement agreements, 36 have reached agreements with Britto and are the process of signing private settlement agreements and judgments by consent, and another 33 are conducting settlement negotiations.
Since filing the lawsuit, Britto’s attorneys — backed by local and federal law enforcement authorities — have snuffed out scores of Britto knock-off products, including purses, wallets, mugs, umbrellas, watches and articles of clothing, from the local market. That number could reach about 100,000 items after the case is closed early next year.
Over the past couple of weeks, more entities were found to be selling counterfeit Britto products, but Peñagarícano said her client decided not to amend the original lawsuit to include more defendants “so as to not complicate the case, which is already in an advanced stage.”