Amazon sues over knockoff baby products as it tries to clean up site

Jeff Bezos’ Amazon has filed a new lawsuit over counterfeit baby products as it struggles to rid its site of fakes.

The August complaint, unsealed in federal court in Seattle on Thursday, claims 11 individuals residing in China have been using Amazon to sell baby strollers, car seats and gate check travel bags that appear to have been made by J.L. Childress — a 35 year-old family-owned childcare travel accessories company.

The alleged fraudsters were shipping products with J.L. Childress’ registered trademarks, and in some cases even sourcing their products from some of the California-based company’s suppliers, according to the complaint.

The alleged counterfeiters were so successful that their volumes “significantly exceeded the volume of authentic J.L. Childress products any distributor could conceivably have available based on J.L Childress’ distribution channels and manufacturing volumes,” according to the complaint.

The sites have been removed from Amazon’s third-party seller’s marketplace after J.L. Childress, which is named as a plaintiff in Amazon’s suit, bought the lookalike products to prove they were fakes.

It’s not the first time Amazon has gone after counterfeiters in partnership with a merchant. In August it teamed up with cosmetics seller KF Beauty in a lawsuit against a Wyoming-based shell company, which also named a defendant who lives in China. In June it filed a joint complaint in conjunction with Maison Valentino, an Italian luxury fashion brand that claims it was ripped off by Buffalo, NY-based Kaitlyn Pan Group LLC.

“Whether a product comes from a large brand, family business, or a new entrepreneur, our priority is preventing counterfeits from entering our store and damaging our customers’ experience and a brand’s reputation,” Amazon’s associate general counsel, Cristina Posa, said in a statement. “We invest significant resources in proactively protecting our store, and in addition, we take aggressive action to hold bad actors accountable as we’ve done here.”

In February 2019, the online retailing giant conceded that it has a counterfeit problem. Since then it has implemented a number of new initiatives, including Project Zero, a tool that legitimate brands can use to detect counterfeit activity on the Amazon marketplace.

But experts say the company could have a tough time snuffing out this problem, especially since so much of it comes from overseas markets that are hard to control.

“It’s still pretty easy for a seller to come back with a different name,” said James Thomson of Buy Box Experts, a consulting firm to Amazon sellers.

Neither J.L. Childress nor Amazon are likely to see a dime from the 11 defendants named in the latest complaint because they are based in China and US courts have no jurisdiction there, Thomson pointed out.

“I don’t think they ever anticipated that it would be so hard to keep the bad guys away,” he added.