Amazon partners Yeti on lawsuit against counterfeiters

Amazon has joined forces with outdoor goods company Yeti in a lawsuit that accuses two US-based defendants of selling counterfeit products on Amazon’s US website.

The lawsuit, filed in a Seattle court last week accuses Michael White and Karen White of San Diego, California, of collaborating on the sale of fake Yeti products, including the company’s Rambler double-wall vacuum mug that is designed to keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold.

The complaint alleges that the pair were involved in the unlawful importation and resale of significant quantities of counterfeit Yeti branded products in the Amazon third-party Marketplace store between February and September of this year.

It also cites 10 unknown parties that worked with the defendants to “knowingly and wilfully manufacture, import, advertise, market, offer, and sell counterfeit Yeti products.”

In March and April, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intercepted two separate shipments of cup lids bearing the Yeti logo, which were confirmed by the brand owner as counterfeit. A test purchase of a mug from the White’s Gadsen Flags storefront also revealed the item was a knock-off.

“As a result of their illegal actions, defendants have infringed and misused Yeti’s intellectual property…wilfully deceived and harmed Amazon, Yeti, and their customers, compromised the integrity of the Amazon store, and undermined the trust that customers place in Amazon and Yeti,” says the lawsuit.

It’s the latest instance of Amazon joining forces with brand owners to pursue counterfeiters in the courts as it tries to repair the damage caused by the proliferation of counterfeits on its websites.

Amazon says it has taken steps to tackle counterfeit listings on its sites, such as a series of brand protection programmes and a pledge to make sure it identifies sellers on its Marketplace platform, but critics say these measures haven’t gone far enough.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) says Amazon and other platforms like Facebook and Instagram are a major source of fake goods, and it wants them included in the next edition of the US’ annual list of notorious counterfeit marketplaces.

Last year’s edition of the Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets, to give it its full name, included five of Amazon’s ex-US websites. Amazon insists it spent more than $500m on anti-counterfeit and fraud prevention activities last year, and that these ensured that more than 99.9 per cent of pages viewed by customers did not have a valid notice of counterfeit infringement.

Amazon and Yeti’s lawsuit is seeking an injunction on the sale of goods by the defendants or any affiliate on Amazon’s platform, the impounding of all Yeti-branded products, plus damages and costs.

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