City Councilwoman Margaret Chin Wants To Make It Illegal To Purchase Knockoff Purses

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Knock off the knockoffs, or we’ll send the fashion police after you.

That’s the message City Councilwoman Margaret Chin wants to send. Chin plans to introduce a bill making it illegal to purchase counterfeit designer merchandise. Violators could face a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.

“If they buy it from the back of a van or a back alley or some hidden basement somewhere, they know they’re buying counterfeit goods,” Chin said.

“I think it’s good – all those knockoffs are hurting the real brand,” James Mei told CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez.

Chin is reportedly fed up with tourists heading to her district – Chinatown – in search of the cheap imitations. Chin says the counterfeiters flaunt child labor laws and the funds may support other nefarious activities.

1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports: New Yorkers say don’t fine the buyer

The underground economy’s main outpost operates along Canal Street in the shadow of legitimate stores that sell generic handbangs, t-shirts and trinkets.

Some tourists and residents were skeptical of the proposal.

“It’s crazy, it’ll chase away all the customers and scare all the tourists from coming down here,” he said. “If you’re going to stop it, you have to stop the seller.”

“I thought this country was a free country, you can do whatever you want, and I go to jail because I buy a fake bag? That’s stupid,” Cintyha Tape said.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb With Mayor Bloomberg

If the bill passes – it already has a number of co-sponsors – signs would be posted throughout the area warning shoppers of the new rule.

“If we start cutting the demand, ultimately we will cut the supply,” Chin said.

“Sometimes people think they’re buying the real deal, and it turns up to be a knockoff. What are you going to do in cases like that?” Danielle James said.

“When you’ve got a lot of tourists, like you do in New York City, then it’s a bit harsh,” tourist Robyn Langley said.

The new bill targeting buyers of counterfeit goods is set to be introduced before the city council on Thursday.

What do you think of the proposal? Sound off in our comments section.

More from Hazel Sanchez

One Comment

  1. Stephen Galjour says:

    I was interview by 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa April 26, 2011 which aired the same evening. Is there a way to email me a video clip of the interview so that I can so friends and family?

  2. Frank D says:

    I’m sur ethis council woman will be getting a big campaign donation from various corporations under the name of every single one of their employees.

    It is allready is illegal to sell counterfeit goods. Has been for years.

    Enforce the laws you already have. Not make new ones.

    1. Stephen McCarthy says:

      I believe the business issue (quality authentic goods) and ethical issue (supporting Chinatown’s efforts to reduce crime tied to illegal activities) are very real, legitimate and important goals of the pending legislation. For those interested, our very own NYC based award winning team (NYU/Stern 2010 BP
      competion and 2011 TechStars finalists) of Melanie Moore and Eric Jennings have developed a novel business model around the online purchase of top of the line handbags and accessories – check out the website and be prepared to “buy or vie” in a very real legitimate way…it could revolutionize the business!

  3. goryegor says:

    why are the originals so expensive to begin with if a little child can make the same if not better bag?
    Huh mrs chin?

  4. Lydia says:


  5. michael says:

    Just another tax attempt by a bleeding Dem.

  6. Trish says:

    I can’t belive this woman is wasting our tax money on non-sense. She should be working for us not those already rich designer houses.

  7. peter lim says:

    margaret chin wrong, punish the sellers….

  8. Auburn Dale says:

    So Ms. Chin wants to severely punish the BUYERS of fake goods, while specifically exempting the SELLERS from any punishment. I guess we know who bought her off!

    1. Carl Place says:

      Shhhhh (ancient chinese secret)!

  9. Josh says:

    Nobody goes down to Chinatown thinking they are buying the real thing. There is a demand for lower price knockoffs and the sellers know this. These sellers are small business owners, who we are supposed to be supporting in this tough economy. The real brands hurt themselves by pricing their goods far above what the average buyer can afford. While I understand that counterfitting isn’t “right”, buying a fake Gucci bag is a victimless crime. Maybe Ms. Chin should check to see that her constituents are properly reporting their income, and pay taxes, regardless of the goods they sell.

  10. BB says:

    The law should include a fine for the seller and the buyer.

  11. Rodin says:

    BTW, the ‘pitchoore’ above is misleading and libelous. These are NOT what they’re after. It’s the ones sold around the corner wrapped in brown plastic bags.

    “Chinatown, my Chinatown….”
    – Al Jolson
    1886 –1950
    American blackface singer, comedian and actor.

  12. moon10 says:

    extremely good point. I so much agree. thank you.

    1. Rodin says:

      Whose? What? Which?

      You’re welcome!

  13. Candy Thomas says:

    Why doesn’t Councilwoman Chin focus on the gangs in China town that extorts money from hardworking people? The so-call knockoffs are often seconds that the brands are throwing away. Most people and sometimes even those that can afford to buy the real deal, do it because it costs less. How many people do you know can afford to buy an $800 bag in this economy? The buyer should not be penalized for wanting to look and feel good. NYC you need to come up with something else to generate taxes.


    1. moon10 says:

      I agree with you. I would add: In any economy, why would a freaking handbag cost $800? Chin says knock-offs flaunt child labors, who do the real ones flaunt? I think it’s great that for everything there’s a knock-off. And by the way real or knock-off Coach bags are ugly as hell. I would never want to own one.

  14. Rodin says:


  15. Rodin says:

    TUNNEL VISION. Can’t get past it.

    1. Rodin says:

      Can I help it if you can’t get it? Stick around and you might learn something. I’m a teacher, I teach … those who have the capacity to learn, not EVERYONE. It’s a teacher’s fate.

  16. I'm with ya says:

    WHATEVER…. these “higher ups” should really get a life. China town merchants aren’t bothering anyone… tourists are happy… I know I was with my purchase.

    NYS really finds ways to drive the money out. Why is she so friggen worried about people buying themselves a knock off item and saving a couple bucks? Apparently she didn’t get the bargain she wanted and is trying to show her “power”. She must want the merchants to go on welfare so that our taxes go up even higher.

    1. Rodin says:


  17. BROWN says:


    is this councilwoman really serious or was she only looking for five minutes of spotlight time?

    how could she possibly try to take away from the less fortunate.

    not everyone can afford to purchase the original expensive pocketbook that they seen. some people can only afford knockoff items; which is not a crime and should not be treated as a crime.

    dont try to penalize innocent people for trying to spend their hard earned money on something that they like and can afford to purchase, let them enjoy what they can afford without thinking about the consequences of going to jail or being fined.

    Okay, what’s next….stop and arrest all the people that buy store brand food that takes the place of the original name brand products. should we stop the making of shoes/sneakers with no names on them because they look like another named brand sneaker/shoe?

    wait, now we must lock up and fine all of the drug makers that make generic drugs so the nonwealthy people can afford.

    city councilwoman, shame on you for being so damn STUPID for only speaking and not thinking before you speak….PLAIN STUPID statement.

    If things are made more affordable then you wouldn’t have people out there making and selling cheaper items such as knock off pocketbooks.

    why dont you try to get the manufaturers of these expensive bags and drug s make them affordable for everyone then therewould not be any knock off items out there…think about that being the solution before you decide to lock up and fine innocent people…..

    this councilwoman and anyone that thinks her remark is a great idea is just as stupid as she is…idiots.

    again you want to prosecute the poor for trying to live the best and honest way that they can, you foolish clown!

    1. Rodin says:

      Agree 100% but I bet you can’t say it in 10 words or less, Brownie.

  18. Rod says:

    Shouldn’t the seller of the illegal goods be fined or shut down?

    How does the buyer know what’s real and what isn’t.

    Chin should retire out of simple respect for common sense.

    Cur it off at the source and that’s the end.

    Anyway, why not let the corporate big wigs pick up the tab?

    1. Rodin says:

      Trust me, the buyers always know they’re fakes. They go down looking for them. Then go down to the hellhole of GZ to pay respects and ogle.

      Hooray for the most expensive hot dogs and cheapest designer bags in Amerikkka!


  19. Rodin says:

    Don’t know about the Constipation but Ms Chin’s working against her own people’. Victimless crimes that hurt no one except the über rich design houses and the arrogant poseurs that run them. The tourists sure know what they’re getting, cheap fakes that look like the real thing so they can go home to Tuscalooser and Ogosh and boast.

    As the fake bags bring buyers down they CONSUME: restaurants, stalls, markets, souvenir shops, transportation.

    I had a studio in Chinatown and loved the buzz of activity, the only place with any character left, the one thing I miss about NYC since I split 5 years ago. Certainly can do without the “gentrifiers” and their enablers.

    Chin up, Chin, Chin, Chin-ka-dee

  20. Anthony Ventarola says:

    What a joker…. Nothing better to do but stomp on the Constitution some more. Throwing people in jail to protect Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and the like. She should be chastised for even proposing this!

  21. Rodin says:

    The problem, as with anything else, is always the demand, whether it be drugs, sex or faux plastic Louis Vuittons as good as the REAL plastic Louis Vuittons.

    The ensuing problem will be less faux plastic Louis Vuittons and more drugs and prostitution to make up for the lost income.

  22. Omar says:

    So the problem is the demand, NOT the supply of counterfeit goods is that right? I guess it’s too difficult to stop the flow of these items into NYC so let’s target people trying to find a deal. Good job trying to kill tourism to Chinatown. Maybe these tourists will go elsewhere to find their knockoffs. Especially since she’s unconcerned with the supply side of things.

    1. Auburn Dale says:

      Bingo! She wants to punish the buyers, but NOT the sellers. Who paid her off?

    2. Josh says:

      Well said. Leave it to our City Council to drive business out of the City with it’s nanny state rules.

  23. nathan says:

    More chins than a Chinese fone book.

  24. Shane Devino says:

    not everyone is FASHION SMART! they don’t know what’s real or fake. it’s not everyday that you buy $1000 piece of junk.

    Exam for Men: 99% fail
    Exam for Women: 90% fail

  25. gg says:

    ok so how do you PROVE the midwestern hick KNEW it was a KNOCK OFF U DAMN MORON!!!!

    1. Allen Bennett says:

      When they paid $5 for it stupid

  26. Marina Ios says:

    if you really insist to have a purse which says vuitton, or chanel, so what??? everyone will definitely know its not the real thing, but some of them look ok, and are really comfortable, inside pockets, keys place, cell phone place, etc.- and much cheaper…. and by the way, what is the story with all the levis or lee jeans, selling in stores, such as ABC, walmart, etc, those are definitely not the real levis, since they sell by $18-$20, instead of $100


    Infringement starts and stop with the manufacture. Not the purchaser. IP attorneys work very hard on their client’s trademarks and pattens. But as long as the consumer wants these items at a lesser price, it will be very hard to have the law comply. There are no many more issues, to deal with. LET US HAVE OUR KNOCK OFFS FOR @#$%@$% …

  28. HooDatIS? says:

    its my gucci and i want it now!
    government needs to stop being the fashion police
    on my mama on my hood i look fly i look good touch my purse wish u would
    u sicko leave my fake purse alone
    yo wife got the same one from MING
    visit my blog

  29. Wolf says:

    It’s only illegal if they have the brand name. Just because a product looks similar does not absolutly make it illegal. Put tariffs and duty tax back on products not made in USA. Then our factories could compete price wise. Funny, you never see in hong kong “Ameritown”!!!

  30. pay wahun says:

    No, writing the sign on the street is not enough. Write the sign on the merchandise that says this is counterfeit – if I buy it thereafter, then you can arrest me for breaking the law.
    Thank god, these knock-offers are doing to the manufacturers what the manufacturers have been doing to us for centuries. They take the jobs to Vietnam for cheap labor and import the product home for arm and a leg price.

  31. Enforcement says:

    Good luck of enfocing this — As a customer, how the heck can I tell between fake and authentic. What if I don’t even know the brand I am buying is considered a designer copyrighted brand? I can be a casual shopper that sees a pretty bag and wants to buy. Now I am going to get in trouble b/c of a “dishonest” seller. Get real lady and put your energy into REAL ISSUES.

  32. Fritz Von says:

    And another thing….
    People who can afford the real thing don’t buy cheap copies. Which means, the only people buying the cheap copies, are the people who would never be able to buy the real thing. So, no fancy, greedy, special, delicate, designers are missing out on a dime. Too much logic?

    1. Jimmy says:

      You know, you’re probably right.

  33. Redman says:

    As a juvenile, bought Cazals off Canal.

  34. Fritz Von says:

    Maybe she wants the sale of knockoffs stopped because she’s not getting her cut.

    You’ll know when the payoff comes, she’ll go silent.

  35. Sammy says:

    LOL lIke everything else in this rat hole city, go after the customers and not the dealers.
    I dont get it? Daily police bust drug buyers buying nickel and dime bags but the dealers with the ounces and pounds of drugs go untouched. Now they want to arrest the buyers of knock offs and not the people selling them?
    Unreal – Areest the sellers and shut down the store for good.
    Its a joke as is our Mayor. Politicians at work………………..

  36. Paulina says:

    Is she out of her mind?

  37. Ziggy says:

    Ben Toller,

    You don’t come across as being very educated.

  38. Ziggy says:

    Counterfeit goods are sold by many, if not all, ethnic groups.

    Whenever there is money to be made – someone will be there making it!

  39. Ziggy says:


    How many fake handbags and shoes does your wife or girl friend have in her closet.

    Sir, you don’t know what you are talking about.

    1. Eric says:

      None, we do not support illegal activities or enterprises. We only buy real authentic products. Nothing bootleg for my wife.

      1. Eric says:

        Except her breasts!

      2. Eric says:

        Whoever wrote that comment about my wife’s breast should be reported!

  40. Bell Toller says:

    The orientas are the ones selling this

  41. Eric says:

    I clearly support this bill. This bill will reduce the congestion of those streets affected, reduce crime, increase the standard of living in those areas, and protect the unwary consumer. Yes, this bill might restrict those who want to buy some “fake” product or some “fake” product that does not work; but the overall theme is for the greater good. The main reason for these counterfeiters to operate wherever (Chinatown, Nolita, etc) is because of the purchaser who purchases those “fake” items. THe purchasers are those who support this illegal activities. (I would like to analogize it with buying a gun for a person to commit a crime with) Councilwoman Chin is doing what she was elected for: to improve the City of New York, for a better City. A City with people selling “fake” goods is not a City that one wants to visit or live in. We do want to keep NYC as the Greatest City in the World.

    1. Josh says:

      Eric’s “real name” is Margaret Chin.

  42. Ziggy says:

    The current focus needs to be on JOBS, JOBS and more JOBS!

  43. Chinatown Merchants says:

    Rotsa ruck with that, Ms. Chin.

  44. Soap says:

    Another small step towards communism.

  45. Avi Rosenthal says:

    Since they ‘cleaned’ up Times Square, they moved down to canal st.

  46. patty says:

    There are still THOUSANDS of unemployed and the quality of life needs to be improved because of the unemployment. That is what the focus should be on. Create jobs, create better housing that is affordable, focus on better education maybe free education for doctors, engineers, nurses, scientist, mentor people so that they can be viable and productive.

    Oh, and take care of the public who by the way placed you in office.

  47. William says:

    There are still THOUSANDS of homeless and FRIGGIN RATS the size of rabbits in the Subway and this is a MAJOR issue????? I just don’t this City Council, honestly….. Focus on the real issues PLEASE!!

  48. Cos says:

    Now they are telling us what we can and can’t buy… This is pithetic. Why isn’t anyone in NYC screaming at the top of their lungs about their desire to buy and wear whatever they want!? My God in Heaven…! People, you are losing your rights. This is a clear-cut case of the government infringing on your freedom of choice. If you choose to wear a knock-off, that should remain your choice!

  49. Help the residents says:

    The area is gentrifying rapidly with no consideration for the strong chinese culture there. Chinatown in 15 years will cease to exist. Help the residents there instead of pushing them out. Who voted you in office?? Certainly looks like you’re not working for your residents.

    1. Jimmy says:

      you mean like Chinatown squeezed out Little Italy.

      1. Tony says:

        Exactly. thje problem is the city bends over backwards to get people from iowa to move here. They sanitize and white wash everything and banish what they dont like to the ghettos. NYC is just one big Katrina pig with lipstick on it but it used to be a loner rebel pig with a leather jacket and people wonder why the city isnt cool anymore and why there are ZERO neighborhoods in downtown manhattan its just one big times square

      2. Rodin says:

        Got THAT right!

  50. Tony says:


    You should concentrate on something that will improve the quality of life in NYC instead of protecting the trademarks of Lous Vitton. Asians sellling counterfiet merchandise on Canal St? Really hasnt that been going on since like anyone living can remember? No seriously, so before you change Canal to a freak hipster clown purse store why dont you just concentrate on something that will pay off, something that as councilwoman that would actually help the city or new yorkers…or you could shill for louis vitton and pretend you didnt know what Canal st is all about since 1950. Or perhaps you didnt bc your an immigrant or an outsider

    Love it when we pay public employees to work for Louis Vitton and Nike. Awesome.

    1. Bridget says:

      So right. I guess this council person has nothing more important to do.

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