The Latest In Amazon’s Anticounterfeit Measures: Joint Suits With Elite Brands Amidst Luxury Platform Launch
Amazon, the country’s largest platform for sellers and buyers of goods, is attempting to distance itself from its growing reputation as a haven for counterfeit goods among big luxury brands and the public alike, as well as earn the trust of luxury brands. Mass sellers allegedly profit up to 350 billion dollars per year from counterfeit goods.1 Amazon’s latest measures to combat this stigma and enter back into the good graces of big brands and the public include joint suits with luxury brands against third-party sellers.
Amazon made its first move in June 2020 when it partnered with luxury makeup brand KF Beauty against third party counterfeit sellers Shenzhen Mingyanfeng Tech, Topogrow, General Medi, and a dozen other individuals.2 Amazon and KF Beauty alleged that these sellers advertise, market, offer, and sell counterfeit products as genuine WUNDER2 products to Amazon despite KF Beauty’s registered trademarks.3 Although KF issued cease and desist letters and went through proper internal procedure on Amazon to stop the sale of counterfeits, defendants continued to sell the illegal products.4
Shortly after, Amazon partnered with Valentino against Third Party sellers in yet another anti-counterfeit suit. In August 2020, Amazon and Valentino alleged that Kaitlyn Pan, among other Third-Party sellers, sold shoes that were substantially similar to Valentino’s “ROCKSTUD” trademark,5 Pan had actually attempted to register her own intellectual property for the design but was subsequently denied, although she was still permitted to sell the shoes on Amazon.6 This suit not only works to stop counterfeits, which is in the best interest of Amazon and other luxury brands with Intellectual Property Rights, but also works to save Amazon’s reputation and show its goodwill7 Although Amazon has internal anti-counterfeiting measures, explicit actions that are visible to the public may begin to balance out the suits that brands have initiated on their own concerning counterfeits on Amazon’s site.8
These instances are among other initiatives from Amazon to reduce counterfeits and also win over luxury brands. Just last week, Amazon Fashion launched a luxury site which features the works of Oscar de la Renta.9 This launch was long rumored and anticipated, as Amazon is attempting to expand its reputation beyond a marketplace for random, instantaneous, and knockoff goods, and into an image of a store that is capable of selling high-end fashion.10 Amazon has also explicitly been attempting to earn the trust of luxury fashion brands among the likes of LVMH, which has sworn its products off of Amazon. 11 LVHM has expressed its general distrust of the large presence of counterfeit sellers and does not want to expose itself to a slew of lawsuits.12
E-commerce has grown exponentially over the last few years, and especially during COVID-19 when in-person shopping was quickly taken as an option. The fashion law world will be waiting on its toes for how Amazon’s latest anti-counterfeit measures will play out, as well as the launch of its new luxury platform to re-brand itself as a haven for luxury, and not as a warzone.
See Jennifer Alsever, How to Win Against Counterfeiters, Inc Mag. (Mar. 2015), https://www.inc.com/magazine/201503/jennifer-alsever/tipsheet-counterfeit-combat.html [https://perma.cc/9WLC-SQUL].↩
See Complaint, Amazon, Inc. v. Sirowl Tech., No. 2:20-cv-01217 (W.D. Wash. 2020).↩
Complaint for Damages and Equitable Relief at 11-18, Amazon, Inc. v. Kaitlyn Pan Group LLC, No. 2:20-cv-00934-RSM 1 (W.D. Wash. 2020), https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.wawd.286853/gov.uscourts.wawd.286853.1.0.pdf [https://perma.cc/A5UP-AM6P].↩
Emmanuel Gill, Amazon and Valentino v. Kaitlyn Pan: Contractual Breach and Counterfeiting, Lexology (June 23, 2020), https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=707e433a-8654-4068-b581-5dcb492cca97 [https://perma.cc/4LZZ-AVB9].↩
Nicole Phelps, Amazon Launches Luxury Stores on Its Mobile App with Oscar de la Renta as First Brand Partner, Vogue (Sept. 15, 2020), https://www.vogue.com/article/amazon-launches-luxury-stores-oscar-de-la-renta [https://perma.cc/DPL5-FNKC].↩
See Amazon, Valentino Team Up & File Suit Against Amazon Seller for Counterfeiting, Patent Infringement, The Fashion Law (June 18, 2020), https://www.thefashionlaw.com/amazon-valentino-team-up-to-file-suit-against-amazon-seller-for-counterfeiting-patent-infringement/ [https://perma.cc/TD7D-UR2C].↩