Amazon sues: taking the fight to counterfeiters

Ed Seaford

This week has seen big news in the anti-counterfeiting arena, as Amazon has filed two lawsuits against sellers allegedly selling counterfeit items through its online marketplace.

The first lawsuit is against ToysNet of Hacienda Heights, California, over the sale of a counterfeited product called Forearm Forklift. The product is a fabric strap that allows wearers to more easily move heavy furniture and other items. Despite the accusation, the seller produced invoices to prove the items were not counterfeit, but Amazon disputes their legitimacy, believing them to be forgeries.

The second lawsuit is against Joana Ferreira for selling fake TRX equipment, a product owned by Fitness Anywhere. This lawsuit represents two 'firsts': it is not only the first time that Amazon has sued one of their sellers for selling counterfeit goods on their marketplace, but also, on a broader scale, it is the first time that a marketplace has partnered with a brand owner to litigate against counterfeiting.

Amazon has been stepping up its fight against counterfeiters. In August, it implemented a steeper fee program for instances where a seller is assessed to be dealing in counterfeit items, imposing fees (and significant red tape) ranging from $1,000 to $1,500.

Brands have expressed frustration with Amazon about inconsistent and complicated take-down procedures when it comes to removing knock offs from the giant's online marketplace. However, these lawsuits signal that Amazon is stepping up its fight against counterfeiters and are prepared to work with brands to tackle the problem.