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Amazon counterfeit case could have fashion implications

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Last month, a notable case came to an end – one that didn’t exactly involve fashion or luxury goods, but could nonetheless have some interesting implications for the industry, as it involved Amazon’s ability to to avoid the responsibility of the products offered during its third scan. -party market. Last month, Maglula Ltd. revealed that she had settled the lawsuit she brought against Amazon in 2019, in which she accused the e-commerce titan of counterfeiting and counterfeiting in connection with the sale of “cheap” counterfeit weapons magazine Maglula brand fire. loaders and unloaders on its platform.

In her complaint, Maglula argued that Amazon offered and sold counterfeit products, as well as products that infringed its copyrights and patents, and that despite its “many and repeated requests” over a three-month period. Amazon failed to take reasonable steps to prevent or remedy the infringement for years, prompting Maglula to file a complaint against the company founded by Jeff Bezos.

In addition to fighting for Amazon to remove the allegedly counterfeit products (some of which listed “Amazon Warehouse” as a seller and all of them “Completed by Amazon”), Maglula alleged that the contact details Amazon provided for the third-party sellers involved was in large part. part “non-functional”, with at least part of the information being wrongly linked to people who “have been victims of documented identity theft”. Ultimately, Maglula argued that Amazon made it “impossible” to bring third-party sellers “to justice and investigate the sources of the fakes.”

And in an effort to preventively reduce Amazon’s long-standing (and largely successful) argument that it is not the “seller” of products that appear in its market and is therefore immune of any responsibility, Maglula asserted that Amazon is more than just an intermediary, because it “controls all aspects of the sales process with its partners” and enjoys the exclusive right to “suspend, ban or remove product listings” and “to receive all products from all [the] sales on behalf of its partners ”on the marketplace site.

Following Amazon’s unsuccessful attempts to demand arbitration and then transfer the case to federal court in his native Seattle, Judge Liam O’Grady of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has inflicted another loss on Amazon in May 2021. In a three-page Order on Amazon’s summary judgment motion, Judge O’Grady ruled as Amazon “identified apparent weaknesses in some of the supporting evidence de Maglula “, even these weaknesses were unlikely to make” one iota of difference for a jury “in light of the” overwhelming “evidence of” illegal infringement “at stake.

Among other things, the court rejected Amazon’s argument that Maglula should not be allowed to make blanket infringement claims regarding “thousands of disparate products from various third-party vendors and manufacturers” without showing on a “product basis. by product which brands are at issue or how the alleged infringement occurred. representative sample was violated ”in order to survive a summary judgment motion.

Calling the case a “simple case of infringement,” Justice O’Grady said “this is just not a case where Amazon can shirk its liability,” noting that the retailer “has started selling [the infringing Maglula goods] online as genuine products ”, despite being informed“ on several occasions to no avail that he was selling substandard counterfeit products and ruining Maglula’s business ”.

A “simple” case of counterfeiting

In the wake of the tribunal’s finding that there were genuine, material factual issues in relation to each of the causes of action (including whether Amazon and its third-party sellers have a relationship that allows Amazon to be liable for the act. others for alleged infringements and infringements), making summary judgment inappropriate, and following court-ordered mediation, the parties settled the case in full in December.

Jeffrey Berkowitz and David Mroz of Finnegan, who acted as counsel for Maglula, have since called the court’s summary judgment decision unprecedented, saying that the finding that the Maglula v Amazon case was a “counterfeit case simple ”is something no other court has held true when it comes to Amazon and its third-party platform. This determination could prove important given the fact that over 50% of Amazon’s sales are generated by third-party sellers in its marketplace, and given persistent arguments that “Amazon is doing a lot more to negotiate deals. between buyers and sellers ”. than marketplaces like eBay, which avoided direct and contributory liability in a trademark case filed against it by Tiffany & Co. over ten years ago.

For reference, some of the questionable third-party listings on Amazon currently include trademark infringing Gucci Dionysus bags, counterfeit Jacquemus offers, and quantities of imitating Bottega Veneta products.

Amazon counterfeits

Maglulga – who claimed in her complaint that Amazon has become “so overrun with counterfeit products, and its meager efforts to fix it have been so ineffective, that counterfeit products are now leaving Amazon warehouses all over the United States. at an alarming rate ”- is not the only plaintiff to have sued Amazon for infringement in the not so distant past.

The Cashmere and Camel Hair Manufacturers Institute sued Amazon and third-party seller CS Accessories in November 2021 on branding grounds, accusing the defendants of offering fakes and deceiving consumers by offering products it falsely marketed as “100 % Cashmere ”and claiming that even after alerting Amazon to the problem, the retailer failed to take quick or“ effective ”action to remove fake cashmere products. The case was settled last month, but not in a Boston Federal District Court judge who permanently banned CS Accessories from advertising or selling products falsely labeled as cashmere.

The case is Maglula, Ltd. vs. Amazon.com, Inc., 1: 19-cv-01570 (EDVa.)