wednesday, 16 november of 2016

Amazon sues sellers for offering fake goods on its site

Amazon.com Inc. this week filed lawsuits targeting sellers allegedly listing counterfeit goods on its website, publicly cracking down on an issue that has caused increasing friction.

The two lawsuits, Amazon’s first legal challenge against its third-party sellers for bogus products, pertain to fake versions of the Forearm Forklift, a strap system that allows users to lift heavy items, and TRX Suspension Trainer workout bands and products. The second lawsuit was filed jointly with Fitness Anywhere LLC, the company behind the authentic workout bands.

“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,” the suits state. Both suits were filed Monday in Washington state court.

Amazon has increasingly relied on third-party sellers to fuel its growth, and the online retail giant now has more than two million merchants listing items that comprise about half of all sales on its site. It also co-mingles many of the products in its warehouses with its own under a program known as Fulfillment by Amazon, where Amazon stores and ships items for sellers.

But opening its site to outside sellers has brought with it a greater chance for counterfeit goods to make it into its warehouses, sparking some consumer complaints and friction with the makers of branded products.

In July, shoemaker Birkenstock GmbH informed its retail partners it would stop selling to Amazon in the U.S. as of Jan. 1 and would no longer authorize third-party merchants to sell to the site because of high levels of counterfeits and knockoffs.

Last month, Apple Inc. said in a lawsuit that fake power adapters and charging cables were rampant on Amazon and that some were being sold directly by the online retailer. Apple filed the suit against Mobile Star LLC, which it said Amazon had determined was the supplier of many of those products. A lawyer for Mobile Star said that the company doesn’t knowingly traffic in counterfeit goods and that it is investigating Apple’s allegations.

Amazon has publicly stepped up efforts to combat counterfeiters in recent months. In August, the online retailer said it would start charging up to $1,500 in one-time fees and require invoices from manufacturers or distributors to prove that the sales by third-party sellers of certain brands were authorized.

In the suits, Amazon said it spends tens of millions of dollars on technology to identify counterfeits and that it employs a team that continually works to refine its anticounterfeiting program. Amazon said it uses technology to determine if new sellers might be bad actors, blocking some before they can sell on the site.

(Published by The Wall Street Journal - November 15, 2016)

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