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Amazon Files First-Ever Lawsuits Against Counterfeiters

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In October, Apple revealed that nearly 90% of chargers and cables labeled under its brand name on Amazon turned out to be counterfeit, and in response filed a lawsuit against the alleged counterfeiters. Amazon’s role in preventing the fakes from hitting the market was called into question, but now the e-Commerce giant has stepped up to file its first lawsuits against alleged counterfeiters that sell knockoff products on its web site.

Amazon has filed two separate lawsuits within its home state of Washington, one against ToysNet and another against individual seller Joana Ferreira. ToysNet is a company that reportedly develops a counterfeit reproduction of the Forearm Forklift, a fabric strap that allows wearers to more easily move heavy furniture and other items.

A CNBC article highlighted the financial struggles that Forearm Forklift has had to deal with in recent years, which the brand attributed largely to counterfeit products sold on Amazon. The brand’s annual revenue has dropped 30% since 2008, with the company only making $500 in total profit in 2015.

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Amazon indicated that its fraud detection system flagged ToysNet for selling fake items, but the seller produced invoices to prove the items were not counterfeit. In the suit, Amazon countered that these invoices were forged.

In the suit against Ferreira, Amazon alleges that the individual started selling copies of exercise fabric strap TRX on the site, adding the false claim that the equipment was a genuine TRX product.

While Amazon has yet to officially comment on the matter, the lawsuits reveal the retailer’s current position on counterfeit sellers:

“Amazon invests tens of millions of dollars annually developing sophisticated technology to detect bad actors and potentially counterfeit products, and it employs dedicated teams of software engineers, research scientists, program managers, and investigators to operate and continually refine its anti-counterfeiting program,” asserted the filing, obtained by Todd Bishop of Geekwire. “Among other things, when sellers register to sell products through Amazon’s Marketplace, Amazon’s automated systems scan information about the sellers for signals that the sellers might be bad actors, and Amazon blocks those sellers during registration before they can offer any products for sale.”

In the past, Amazon itself has been sued by sellers who alleged that the company was partially responsible for enabling the sale of counterfeit goods infringing on their intellectual property. With the immense pressure from all sides, it appears the backlash from Amazon sellers has finally gotten Jeff Bezos’s attention, and that is likely to be bad news for counterfeiters going forward.

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