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Amazon sues marketplace sellers for alleged counterfeit goods

November 14, 2016 05:18 PM
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(Bloomberg)—Amazon.com Inc. filed two lawsuits against vendors allegedly selling counterfeit goods through its online marketplace, stepping up efforts to keep fakes off the site heading into the holiday shopping season.

One suit targets ToysNet of Hacienda Heights, Calif.; Disk Vision of Brandon, Fla.; and individuals who Amazon says sold counterfeit Forearm Forklifts, straps used to carry heavy and bulky items. Amazon,  No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide, said it removed the fake items in June, and said Disk Vision forged an invoice to trick Amazon into reinstating the product listing. Another lawsuit targets several individuals who allegedly sold bogus TRX Suspension Trainers, an exercise system. The lawsuits were filed Monday in state court in Seattle. Amazon provided copies of the complaints, which couldn’t immediately be verified in court records.

Last month, Apple Inc. (No. 2) sued an Amazon seller, claiming the business sold fake Apple products— some of them unsafe—on Amazon.com. As its marketplace grows, Amazon has been taking action to bolster its reliability and boost credibility with customers. Last year, it filed a suit against more than 1,000 people it said wrote fake product reviews on its website, threatening shopper confidence in its consumer reviews. The company last month clamped down on so-called incentivized reviews, in which customers write about products they receive free or at discounted prices.

“Amazon’s customers trust that when they make a purchase through Amazon’s website—either directly from Amazon or from one of its millions of third-party sellers—they will receive authentic products manufactured by the true manufacturer of those products,” according to Monday’s complaints. "When customers purchase counterfeit goods, it undermines the trust that customers, sellers, and manufacturers place in Amazon, thereby tarnishing Amazon’s brand and causing irreparable reputational harm."

The lawsuits provide details about Amazon’s efforts to fight counterfeits, which include spending “tens of millions” of dollars each year on technology to detect bad actors and potentially counterfeit products. Amazon employs teams of investigators and software engineers who continuously refine the anti-counterfeiting program, which uses artificial intelligence to try to stay ahead of those selling fake goods. Still, the company said that counterfeit sellers kicked off the site can resurface with new accounts to sell the fake goods again.

Amazon acknowledged its ability to fight fakes on its own is limited, so it sought court action to prevent the defendants from opening new accounts and selling the goods again.

ToysNet, Disk Vision and other defendants couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

 

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