Bank of China submits records in Gucci case after fines

(Reuters) - Bank of China Ltd surrendered records of various Chinese entities after a U.S. judge imposed a daily fine of $50,000 against the bank, in a case brought by Gucci America Inc.

Holiday shoppers look at store windows at Gucci on 5th Avenue in New York November 23, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan imposed the fine in December last year after holding the bank in contempt for refusing to turn over account information on Chinese customers accused of selling counterfeit luxury goods.

Sullivan stated that the “coercive fine” would be imposed starting on Dec. 8 unless the state-run bank complies with subpoena requests for the records.

The records come from Chinese entities that were sued in 2010 by Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta and other units of Gucci’s Paris-based parent, Kering SA, for trademark infringement over their sales of knockoff handbags, briefcases and other products.

Sullivan initially ordered Bank of China to turn over customer records in 2011. He renewed his order in September, after a federal appeals court told him to revisit the matter.

Bank of China, which is not a defendant, said it could not turn over the records without violating Chinese privacy law and that the judge lacked jurisdiction to force compliance, and opted to appeal the civil contempt order and fine.

“By making today’s document production, BOC has complied with the court’s orders and believes it has purged its contempt,” David Esseks, a lawyer for the bank, said in a letter to Sullivan on Wednesday, after the bank surrendered its records.

Esseks also stated that he believed there would be no sanctions payment due today, or should become due going forward.

Reuters could not immediately reach Kering SA for comment outside regular business hours.

The case is Gucci America Inc v. Weixing Li, 10-cv-04974, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Reporting by Sneha Teresa Johny in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil Nair