Amazon partners with 3M on fake stethoscope litigation

Amazon and 3M have filed a complaint in a US court alleging that third-party sellers on the online retailer's platform have been selling counterfeit 3M stethoscopes.

The suit in the Seattle court names a string of defendants "both known and unknown, who conspired and operated in concert with each other to engage in the counterfeiting scheme," according to court documents.

The stethoscopes listed by the sellers on Amazon are alleged to have infringed several 3M-owned trademarks, including 3M itself, Littmann, L, Cardiology IV, Master Cardiology and Classic III – all brands of stethoscope sold by the company or its subsidiaries.

The suit notes that while the defendants opened selling accounts and provided "a name, email address, and banking information" connected with it, they took "active steps to mislead Amazon and conceal their true locations and identities by providing false information."

Legislation proposed in the US is seeking to force online retailers like Amazon that allow third-party sellers to verify their identity using government ID, tax ID, or bank account information, or face contributory liability for their activities. The requirements would apply for sellers who post above a threshold number of listings.

The complaint notes that Amazon shut down the defendants' accounts after confirming with 3M that the stethoscopes on sale were fake. It claims trademark infringement, false advertising and designation of origin and violation of consumer protection legislation.

Also targets PN medical respiratory device

A second action filed in the same court has been brought by Amazon and PN Medical, a company whose flagship product is sold under The Breather brand.

The medical device is marketed as a respiratory muscle training device for patients with respiratory, cardiac, and neuromuscular impairments. Once again, the lawsuit names a series of defendants who are accused of selling counterfeit versions of the device, and concealing their true identities.

Both 3M and PN Medical are enrolled in Amazon's Brand Registry scheme, which uses machine learning and automated monitoring to detect and predict infringement, while 3M also participates in project Zero, a self-service counterfeit removal tool that enables brands to remove listings directly from Amazon's stores.

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