What Are Counterfeit Goods?
Amazon.com allows many third-party sellers to use their platform to sell their product. Unfortunately, some of the sellers on the website illegally sell counterfeit goods. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, counterfeit means, “to unlawfully forge, copy, or imitate an item, esp. money or a negotiable instrument (such as a security or promissory note) or other officially issued item of value (such as a postage stamp or a food stamp), or to possess such an item without authorization and with the intent to deceive or defraud by presenting the item as genuine. Counterfeiting includes producing or selling an item that displays a reproduction of a genuine trademark to deceive buyers into thinking they are purchasing genuine merchandise”. See 18 U.S.C. §§ 470 et seq. It is within Amazon’s policy to remove any sellers who decide to sell counterfeit products.
That is what happened in the Tre Milano case.1 Amazon was made aware that one of its users had violated not just their terms of the agreement, but had broken the law. Once Amazon was informed of the infringement, they immediately took action. Therefore, when a lawsuit was brought by the seller and the company, Amazon was dismissed from the case because they were not contributorily liable.
Amazon.com has created many safe guards to prevent sellers from selling counterfeit goods. Once Amazon is notified of a seller listing counterfeit items, they can suspend the user or block the user. Any time a seller is blocked, they are prohibited from opening a new account. This is to avoid any liability on behalf of their sellers should a lawsuit arise. Amazon’s argument against counterfeit goods lawsuits is typically that they established preventative measures, and that when Amazon becomes aware that a seller is offering to sell counterfeit goods, they immediately take action against the seller.
- TRE Milano, LLC v. Amazon.com, Inc., S205747, 2012 Cal. LEXIS 11039 (Nov. 28, 2012).
- TRE Milano, LLC v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. S205747, 2012 Cal. LEXIS 11039 (Nov. 28, 2012).
Plaintiff’s case against Amazon was dismissed because Amazon was not responsible for the infringement of a third-party, and could also not be held contributorily liable since Amazon took immediate action once it was notified of the third-party’s infringement.