March 5, 2021

Amazon teams up with YETI in lawsuit against alleged counterfeiters

(GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Amazon and YETI filed a lawsuit that accuses two US-based defendants of selling counterfeit YETI products on Amazon.

The case is Amazon’s latest bid to eliminate counterfeiting on its marketplace and part of the company’s ongoing strategy to portray a tough-on-fraud image.

Tea lawsuit, filed Thursday in federal court in Seattle, alleges that Michael White and Karen White of San Diego, Calif. worked together to sell fake YETI products including the company’s Rambler mug from February to September of this year. YETI sent cease-and-desist notices to the defendants but they continued to sell the counterfeit products, according to the suit. Amazon closed their accounts and refunded customers.

The defendants are accused of trademark infringement, violation of Amazon’s policies, and more.

Amazon says it spent more than $ 500 million on fraud prevention and abuse in 2019. The company last year launched Project Zero, an initiative that aims to eliminate counterfeiting on Amazon’s marketplace through product tracing and automation that detects suspicious listings. It expanded the program in August to seven additional countries.

In June, Amazon formed an internal “Counterfeit Crimes Unit” bringing together former federal prosecutors with investigators and data analysts in the fight against fraudulent listings. Other Amazon initiatives include Transparency, which promises to eliminate counterfeits for enrolled products. The Seattle tech giant last month partnered with the US government’s National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) on a joint operation to stop counterfeits.

Amazon has filed a series of other lawsuits over counterfeit goods, including joining Italian luxury fashion brand Valentino to pursue an alleged counterfeiter of the company’s Rockstud shoes, and teaming up with travel gear retailer JL Childress. Earlier this month it sued two social media influencers for selling counterfeit luxury goods on Amazon.

Counterfeits were one topic raised in a postponement by the House Subcommittee on Antitrust released in October, following a widely watched hearing with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and other tech leaders. Bezos outlined the company’s fight against counterfeits during the hearing.

See the full lawsuit below.