Amazon teams up with Ferragamo on fake seller lawsuits

Online retail giant Amazon and Salvatore Ferragamo have filed a pair of lawsuits against four people accused of counterfeiting the Italian fashion brand’s products.

The joint lawsuits – both filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington – claim the defendants attempted to offer the infringing products in Amazon’s store, violating its policies as well as Ferragamo’s intellectual property rights.

The four people named in the complaint are named as Li Yong and Yantaitianmingwangluokejiyouxiangongsi, both doing business as Phil Baldinie – along with Wu Pianpian and Hefeizanzishangmaououxiangongsi, both doing business as Hefei Yanzi Trading Co.

Court documents say that the defendants controlled and operated selling accounts on Amazon they used to peddle fake Ferragamo products, including belts, between 2019 and 2020.

They cite listings which clearly showed a Ferragamo belt (see main picture) but omitted the Ferragamo word mark from text and photos “in an apparent attempt to evade Amazon’s anti-counterfeit detection tools.” Test purchases revealed that the delivered product bore the Ferragamo mark.

Ferragamo is enrolled in Amazon’s brand registry, a free service to any rights owner with the registered trademark that aims to take downs fraudulent listings automatically and allows brand owners to report violations.

It also subscribes to the online retailer’s Project Zero programme, a self-service counterfeit removal tool that claims to be able to take down listings within minutes.

Amazon meanwhile says it has filed a series of lawsuits against counterfeiters, including a suit against individuals using social media to promote and facilitate the sale of counterfeits, as well as joint lawsuits with Italian luxury brand Valentino, cosmetics brand KF Beauty, family travel accessory brand JL Childress, and YETI.

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“We do not allow counterfeit products in our store, and we have made it crystal clear that we take aggressive action to hold accountable bad actors who attempt to evade our proactive protections,” said Dharmesh Mehta, the company’s vice president of customer trust and partner support.

The online retailer launched a Counterfeit Crimes Unit last year to coordinate its anti-counterfeit efforts, and has said it will take steps to make sure all sellers on its platforms are identifiable, including a pilot of video calls to vet new sign-ups.

Allowing sellers operate anonymously on Amazon has been a perennial criticism of the e-tailer in recent years, as it allows fake peddlers to simply open a new storefront when one is shut down.

The court cases are 2:21-cv-00170 and 2:21-cv-00171. Amazon are seeking an injunction on the sale of counterfeit products as well as damages.

In 2018, Ferragamo won a massive $60m in damages in a lawsuit brought against 150 websites selling counterfeits of its products. As the owners of infringing domains are often hard to identify the damages are generally seen as a deterrent rather than a way to recoup lost revenues.

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