Just two months after teaming up with Valentino to file a counterfeit lawsuit towards sellers on its market platform, Amazon has partnered with one other kind – KF Beauty – to file a joint trademark motion. According to the criticism that they filed on Wednesday in a federal courtroom in Washington, Amazon and KF Beauty declare that 4 firms and 16 people are on the hook for promoting counterfeit variations of KF Beauty’s WUNDER2 magnificence merchandise, together with its best-selling WUNDERBROW eyebrow gels, on Amazon’s sweeping third-party market website.
In the newly-filed lawsuit, Amazon and London-based KF Beauty assert that the defendants – Sirowl Technology, a Wyoming company; Shenzhen Mingyanfeng Tech Ltd., Topogrow, General Medi, and greater than a dozen people – “conspired and operated in concert with each other to … advertise, market, offer, and sell counterfeit products as genuine WUNDER2 products to Amazon,” thereby, operating afoul of KF Beauty’s federally registered logos.”
“From on or about August 8, 2018, to on or about October 30, 2018,” Amazon and KF Beauty declare that the defendants “advertised, marketed, offered, and sold counterfeit WUNDER2 products to Amazon, using KF Beauty’s registered trademarks, without authorization, to deceive Amazon and customers about the authenticity and origin of the products, and the products’ affiliation with WUNDER2.”
“By selling counterfeit WUNDER2 products,” which Amazon and KF Beauty bought and confirmed had been, in actual fact, pretend, the defendants “falsely represented to Amazon and its customers that the products … were genuine products made by KF Beauty,” all whereas realizing that “they were prohibited from violating third-party IP rights or any applicable laws while selling products to Amazon.” In doing so, Amazon and KF Beauty declare that the defendants “deceived Amazon’s customers and Amazon, infringed and misused the intellectual property rights of KF Beauty, harmed the integrity of and customer trust in Amazon’s stores, and tarnished Amazon’s and KF Beauty’s brands.”
After receiving discover from KF Beauty and confirming the defendants’ “unlawful sale of counterfeit WUNDER2 products,” Amazon says that it “promptly blocked the defendants’ Vendor Accounts” in furtherance of “its rights under [the] Vendor Terms and Conditions” – which it requires all third-party distributors to signal earlier than establishing a vendor account – “to protect its customers and its own brand.” Now, along with looking for financial damages in reference to its claims of trademark infringement, false designation of origin, and violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act, the latter of which prohibits unfair or misleading enterprise practices, Amazon and KF Beauty have requested the courtroom to forever enjoin the defendants from “selling products in any of Amazon’s stores; selling products to Amazon or any affiliate; [or] opening or attempting to open any Amazon Vendor or Selling Accounts,” as well as from utilizing KF Beauty’s mental property with out authorization.
Ultimately, whereas Amazon and KF Beauty set out their allegations in reference to the defendants’ alleged counterfeiting, the majority of their 17-page criticism acts as a run-down of Amazon’s efforts in terms of counterfeits, specifically, its makes an attempt “to build and protect its reputation as a store where customers can conveniently select from a wide array of authentic goods and services at competitive prices,” and the way the actions of “a small number of bad actors seek to take advantage of the trust customers place in Amazon.”
In addition to figuring out its varied counterfeit-centric initiatives, together with its several-years-old Brand Registry (“a free service that gives rights owners access to a powerful set of tools that helps them manage and protect their brand and intellectual property rights and report potentially infringing products,” which “more than 350,000 brands,” together with KF Beauty, have enrolled in) and newer efforts like Project Zero, Amazon states that it “prohibits the sale of inauthentic and fraudulent products and is constantly innovating on behalf of customers and working with brands, manufacturers, rights owners, and others to improve the detection and prevention of counterfeit products ever being offered to customers through Amazon’s stores.”
The Seattle-based e-commerce titan asserts that it “invests vast resources to ensure that when customers make purchases through Amazon’s stores, either directly from Amazon or from one of its millions of third-party sellers, [they] receive authentic products made by the true manufacturer of those products,” and particularly points to its apply of “automatically and continuously scanning thousands of data points to detect and remove counterfeits from its stores and to terminate the Selling Accounts of bad actors before they can offer counterfeit products.”
In a press release in reference to the submitting, Cristina Posa, Associate General Counsel and Director, Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit, mentioned, “The majority of sellers in our store are law-abiding entrepreneurs, but we will take aggressive action to protect customers, brands, and our store from counterfeiters. Amazon and KF Beauty are holding these companies and individuals accountable and we appreciate the close cooperation we’ve had in this investigation.”
The lawsuit comes amid ever-mounting criticism of Amazon by regulators and legislators (within the U.S. and past), and the Trump administration on anti-competition grounds and in connection with its role in the widespread availability of counterfeits in the U.S. Amazon seems to be attempting to chip away at such scrutiny by the use of an array of inside initiatives, similar to Project Zero, as well as by the use of a permanent public-facing marketing campaign aimed toward bolstering client and kind confidence within the $1 trillion firm. This contains lawsuits, such because the one at hand, as well because the Valentino go well with, that are aimed toward attaining the pertinent financial and equitable treatments in reference to the defendants, however perhaps extra importantly, these lawsuits stand to ship a transparent message to customers and potential kind companions, alike, about Amazon’s stance in terms of enforcement.
This doesn’t look like all that totally different from the strong marketing campaign that Alibaba launched years in the past to with the intention to shed perceptions that its web sites had been riddled with fakes – a key to gaining a much bigger global client base and taking market share from world opponents, similar to eBay and Amazon.com. As a results of its quest to not solely increase client sentiment but additionally win over manufacturers after being constantly stricken by claims of counterfeits saturating its group of e-commerce sites and being name-checked on the U.S. Trade Representative (“USTR”)’s annual “Notorious Markets” list, an annual blacklist of dangerous actors in mental property, the Chinese firm has managed to lure luxury brands and their offerings – from La Mer skincare merchandise and Valentino luggage and ready-to-wear to Rimowa baggage – onto its particular luxurious website.
Despite years of pushback from regulators and corporations, together with not one but two lawsuits filed against it by Kering – the Paris-based conglomerate that owns Gucci, Baenciaga, Bottega Veneta, and Alexander McQueen, amongst different luxurious manufacturers – on trademark infringement and counterfeiting grounds, Alibaba has seemingly managed to return out on the opposite facet in terms of a lot of its platforms (its TaoBao arm is still viewed as problematic by the USTR), and Amazon virtually actually hopes to learn from an analogous destiny.
In phrases of style and luxurious manufacturers, specifically, Amazon very well could also be taking the identical plan of action. After all, it has tried – and save for some very recent exceptions, largely discovered it troublesome – to win over style trade entities, with luxurious giants like LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, as an example, explicitly swearing off potential partnerships with the $1 trillion retail behemoth, and pointing to the prevalence of “counterfeits” on its third-party market as a key a part of the concern. Against this background, the rising variety of situations of Amazon partnering with manufacturers to file go well with are possible aimed toward serving to it to make a case that it’s, in actual fact, a gorgeous accomplice for even probably the most extremely protecting luxurious manufacturers.
*The case is Amazon, Inc. and Kerafiber LLC dba KF Beauty v. Sirowl Technology, et al., 2:20-cv-01217 (W.D.Wash).