Amazon joins with BBQ maker Weber to sue counterfeiters

Online retail giant Amazon has teamed up with Weber – a manufacturer of barbecue grills – to file a lawsuit that accuses 12 defendants of counterfeiting its grill covers.

The lawsuit was filed in a federal court in Seattle, Washington, and alleges that the defendants conspired to "deceive customers about the authenticity and origin of their products and create a false affiliation with Weber."

Amazon says it closed the defendants' selling accounts and proactively refunded anyone who bought the fraudulent grill covers. All but one of the named defendants are said to have provided business addresses in China, with the other falsely representing its location as Pompano Beach in Florida.

The lawsuit says it aims to "permanently prevent and enjoin defendants from causing harm to Amazon's and Weber's customers, reputations, and intellectual property, and to hold defendants accountable for their illegal actions."

"Between October 2018 and September 2021, defendants collectively advertised, marketed, offered, sold, and distributed at least 11 different types of counterfeit grill covers in the Amazon store using the Weber Trademark," it alleges.

They "operated in concert with one another in their marketing, selling, and distribution of inauthentic versions of Weber grill covers," continues the complaint, which is seeking an injunction on the activities as well as unspecified financial damages.

Last year, Amazon set up a Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU) specifically to tackle this kind of activity, and said in a recent first-year report that invested more than $700m in 2020 and employed more than 10,000 people to "protect its store from fraud, counterfeit, and abuse."

It also claimed that only 6 per cent of attempted new seller account registrations passed Amazon’s verification processes and listed products for sale last year, while fewer than 0.01 per cent of all products sold on its platform received a counterfeit complaint from customers.

The CCU says it provided more than 250 in-depth leads to law enforcement agencies in the USA, the EU, the UK, and China, while Amazon initiated 64 civil cases against counterfeiters in the US.

"If counterfeiters attempt to sell in our store, they don't just break the law and violate the rights of companies like Weber, they mislead consumers," said Kebharu Smith, Director of the CCU.

"In the rare instances when counterfeiters are able to bypass our enforcement tools and teams, we will find them and hold them fully accountable," he added.

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