Amazon takes vendors to court for allegedly selling counterfeit goods

Amazon is emphasising it is taking a tough stance against counterfeiters as the online marketplace files two lawsuits against vendors allegedly selling fake goods.

One lawsuit targets individuals and two companies – California-based Toysnet and Florida-based Disk Vision – which allegedly sold fake Forearm Forklift lifting straps for carrying large items and furniture. The second lawsuit targets several individuals over allegedly selling fake TRX suspension training exercise equipment. The sellers have been blocked from the website and the counterfeit listings have been deleted.

The move, which follows growing criticisms that Amazon features counterfeit goods, comes as the e-commerce giant prepares for the Black Friday discount shopping bonanza and the lead up to Christmas.

"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," copies of the complaints said, according to Bloomberg.

"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… Amazon has zero tolerance for counterfeits and has invested heavily in protecting the integrity of the Amazon marketplace for consumers, sellers and manufacturers."

According to the lawsuits, Amazon spends "tens of millions" of dollars annually on counterfeit detection systems, as well as employing investigators and software engineers to ensure its artificial intelligence anti-counterfeit programme is up-to-date.

Since August, the firm has moved to crackdown on counterfeits and imposed additional fees and paperwork from suspicious sellers.

The court action is part of a concerted approach by the firm to fight fakes, which aims to not only prevent the defendants reoffending – something Amazon claims Disk Vision has already done – but also sends a strong message to other illicit enterprises. There are reports that counterfeiters change identities and find loop holes to avoid detection and to relist their fake products on the platform.

The internet retailer has previously brought lawsuits against more than 1,000 individuals who, it claims, faked product reviews but this current court action appears to be the first time it has targeted sellers.

The court action comes as the e-commerce giant finds itself involved in a growing number of allegations surrounding the authenticity of the products sold on its platform, and follows moves by counterfeiters who are increasingly turning their attention to online stores and social media to dupe unsuspecting consumers.

Earlier this year, shoe brand Birkenstock pulled its products from Amazon claiming the e-commerce giant was not doing enough to halt sales of counterfeits, and last month music industry group the American Association of Independent Music warned there was a "serious counterfeit operation" selling fake CDs through Amazon's Fulfilled by Amazon system.

Also last month, tech giant Apple filed a lawsuit against an Amazon distributor for supplying fake Apple-branded iPhone chargers and accessories and claimed an Apple investigation found that 90 per cent of supposedly genuine Apple-branded products on Amazon were, in fact, fakes.

Meanwhile, Amazon itself is being sued by an American family for $30m. The family, from Tennessee, believe they bought a counterfeit hoverboard off the retailer that caught fire and completely destroyed their $1m home.

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