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Web surfers, like, like Like.com

Are you more attuned to visual cues than verbal ones?  Or do you simply want to find a bag that looks like the one your favorite celebrity was carrying last week?

If so, the new search engine Like.com is designed for you.

Not only can you search by description -- say, "gold evening bag" -- but once you see an "almost right" photo, you can also isolate parts of the image -- the handle, for example -- and find similar items.  Unlike other search engines, the response to your queries comes in the form of thumbnail pictures, so you can scan through and select only the ones with immediate visual appeal.  You can also click on a photo of a celebrity for recent pictures and then find accessories similar to those that he or she was wearing.  If you buy one of the items that you've found, Like.com gets a cut.  The selection of both celebrities and categories of goods is limited thus far, but plans for expansion are in the words. 

Copycat caution?  It seems that Like.com has thus far set out to avoid liability by not linking to "replica" sites that infringe the trademarks of famous brands.  Searches for "counterfeit" and "knockoff" came up empty, and "replica" appeared to generate only legitimate goods that include the word in their descriptions (e.g. "WWII replica olive drab combat pack").  But what about poor-quality, obvious copies that infringe neither U.S. copyright nor trademark law, but are nevertheless the bane of original designers?  Such slavish copies are certainly out there, but hopefully good taste will prevail, among Counterfeit Chic readers at least.  Still, I would imagine that even though the search engine is a technology that is "capable of substantial noninfringing use," as the copyright analysis would prescribe, well-known and frequently knocked-off companies are keeping Like.com in their sights for now. 

All in all, Like.com attempts to address the fact that shopping for fashion items is a visual exercise, while searching the internet has until now relied on more precise verbal cues.  While the site is designed to help users follow trends, it's own approach to style is rather more groundbreaking. 

Many thanks to the generous and vigilant Frederic Glaize of Le petit Musee des Marques for sending me the tip last week.  There is also an article on Like.com in today's New York Times.