Birkenstock is taking action against ABC-Mart, a major trading partner in Japan, charging product plagiarism. The German shoe manufacturer had already terminated its business relations with Amazon in Europe because of counterfeits that were being sold on its online marketplace. Now, Birkenstock has stopped supplying ABC-Mart, an online and offline shoe and apparel retailer operating in Japan and Taiwan, with which it had been working since 2000.

Birkenstock indicates that it gained more insights into the Japanese market by opening its own sales office in Japan last year. According to the company, it learned that ABC-Mart had been producing and selling Birkenstock counterfeits to the benefit of its own private brand of footwear, Hawkins. Additionally, the Japanese company has allegedly mixed original Birkenstock products and displays with the presentation of its Hawkins brand in order to attract customers to its own offerings.

As ABC-Mart has shown no discernment and no willingness to cooperate, Birkenstock says it is currently considering taking legal action. According to Birkenstock, there is no alternative but to end the business relationship with ABC-Mart in order to protect its own brand.

The company did not comment on the amount of sales that it was generating through ABC-Mart in Japan and Taiwan, but they are said to be similar to those that were generated through the marketplace of Amazon Europe before it decided to terminate its relationship with the e-commerce giant, from Jan. 1, 2018 (see Shoe Intelligence Vol. 19 n°23+24 of Dec. 23, 2017).

ABC-Mart was created in 1985 in Tokyo. It currently employs 8,700 people and manages 1,000 stores in Japan, 48 in Taiwan and 246 in South Korea.