Amazon's Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU) reports having filed three lawsuits in relation to false copyright infringement claims filed against legitimate selling partners.
The lawsuits filed at the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington relate to thousands of copyright infringement claims filed in bad faith to try to have products listed by Amazon's legitimate selling partners removed from the platform. Amazon states that these false claims "attempted to reduce customer choice, harm Amazon’s selling partners, and damage the integrity of Amazon’s store".
Amazon's press release claims that the defendants in these cases "created fake, disposable websites, with product images scraped from the Amazon store, to use as false evidence when making thousands of claims that selling partners were violating their copyrights". It has also been reported that one of the defendants engaged a China-based company to file trade marks in the US and used a terminated application to gain access to the Amazon Brand Registry, following which they filed around 3850 bad faith complaints against products listed legitimately on Amazon by verified selling partners.
Amazon often files joint lawsuits with brand owners against the sellers of counterfeit goods (as discussed in my previous article here) but this is the first time that they have taken legal action against bad faith actors who fraudulently use the Brand Registry and IP infringement reporting mechanism to attack brand owners.
IP complaint mechanisms such as the Brand Registry are not just available on Amazon - many e-commerce sites offer a similar service (including eBay, Etsy and Alibaba) as do social media platforms and this lawsuit serves a timely reminder of the variety of different tactics employed by those involved in counterfeiting and IP infringement to try to damage the interests of brand owners.
If brand owners receive fraudulent complaint notices alleging IP infringement on any online platforms, they should seek advice from an IP professional and look to raise this with the relevant platform as soon as possible to prevent any further harm to their interests - infringement notices such as these can result in the removal of genuine product listings (paving the way for counterfeiters' fake goods to be purchased in error by consumers) and the suspension of genuine seller accounts. Our anti-counterfeiting team has significant experience of handling online brand protection matters and can assist with any fraudulent infringement complaints that you may receive.