As the holidays approach, retailers are stepping up the battle against counterfeiting, and the latest example comes from Amazon — which is also trying to build new confidence in its marketplace sales while coming across as a friend to smaller merchants.
The retailer said that it has joined Orange, California-based family-owned retailer J.L. Childress, which sells car seat and and stroller accessories, along with related items, in a lawsuit against 11 named individuals for counterfeiting J.L. Childress’ products, including travel bags. The defendants, by offering the infringing products for sale in Amazon’s store, violated Amazon’s policies, J.L. Childress’ intellectual property rights, and the law, Amazon said.
The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on Aug.10, alleges that the defendants conspired and operated in concert with each other to sell counterfeit J.L. Childress products. The case number is C20-1215RSM.
“Whether a product comes from a large brand, family business or a new entrepreneur, our priority is preventing counterfeits from entering our store and damaging our customers’ experience and a brand’s reputation. We invest significant resources in proactively protecting our store, and in addition, we take aggressive action to hold bad actors accountable, as we’ve done here,” said Cristina Posa, associate general counsel and director, Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit.
News of another anti-counterfeiting lawsuit involving Amazon might not merit much notice except for the fact that the company’s marketplace practices have come under renewed fire in 2020 from the U.S. Congress and from other retailers. In response, Amazon has said that it’s not only expanding its anti-counterfeiting efforts, but also addressing long-standing complaints that it uses data from marketplace sellers to boost its own sales. This new announcement about the lawsuit would seem to address those broader concerns.
That’s not to diminish the danger of retail counterfeiting, of course, especially as consumers move into the holiday shopping season — once expected to bring even more reliance on e-commerce, thanks to the pandemic.
One example came earlier in October.
The Buy Safe America Coalition, a diverse group of retailers, consumer groups and manufacturers that support efforts to combat organized retail crime and protect consumers and communities from the sale of counterfeit and stolen goods, recently revealed a slate of new members: The Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Floor & Decor, as well as the National Association of Wholesalers-Distributors (NAW), Plumbing Manufacturers International and the Power Tool Institute. Existing coalition members from other industries include Walgreens, CVS Health, Ulta Beauty and Philips, all of which signed on in September.
The Washington, D.C.-based coalition is encouraging Congress to pass the INFORM Consumers Act to modernize consumer protection laws by requiring online marketplaces to collect and verify basic seller information and having sellers provide that information to consumers.