In a first, Amazon said it has filed three separate lawsuits against multiple parties it claims submitted thousands of false copyright infringement claims against legitimate third-party sellers, seeking to have their products removed from the Amazon marketplace, limiting choice and tarnishing the brand.
“With these lawsuits, Amazon is launching a new offensive against bad actors that target Amazon’s selling partners,” the company said in a blog post. “By bringing the fight to these bad actors, Amazon is strengthening its ongoing commitment to protect all parties that are integral to the success of the Amazon store, including customers, brands and selling partners alike.”
The lawsuits were all filed in U.S District Court for the Western District of Washington, which includes Amazon’s hometown of Seattle.
Formed in June 2020, Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit includes former federal prosecutors, investigators and data analysts. Since then, it has disrupted three counterfeiting operations in China, with law enforcement seizing more than 240,000 items in November; jointly filed lawsuits with World Wrestling Entertainment in August against 13 alleged bogus sellers; and jointly filed lawsuits with Cartier against a social media influencer and eight businesses for facilitating the sale of counterfeit luxury goods on social media.
“These lawsuits should serve as a warning to anyone that uses fraud in an attempt to harm any of the millions of selling partners that work with Amazon every day,” said Kebharu Smith, director of Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit, in the blog post. Smith had been a senior trial attorney with the Department of Justice’s computer crime and intellectual property section.
Amazon said its Brand Registry, with more than 700,000 brands enrolled, scans over 8 billion daily attempts to update listings in an effort to prevent bogus listings from ever going live. Brands can also use the registry’s image search technology to identify and report counterfeits to the company. Since it was launched, Amazon claims, there has been a 99% reduction in reports of suspected infringement by enrolled brands.
In February 2022, Amazon reversed its longstanding opposition to the federal INFORM Consumers Act designed to reduce ecommerce counterfeiting, while at the same time lobbying against legislation from individual states.