Amazon has long avoided troubles with copyright and trademark infringement issues in the U.S. by calling itself a venue through which merchants can sell — not an actual merchant for many of the goods for sale under its umbrella. Amazon can try to police its sellers, but it is ultimately not responsible for whether they follow the law. Various cases have challenged that premise, to little or no avail.
Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, however, is taking Amazon to court on its own account — not for the actions of its marketplace merchants. The company seeks to prove that Amazon is a direct seller of counterfeit products.
Specifically, wheel caps.
Daimler is suing Amazon over three sets of counterfeit Mercedes-Benz branded wheel caps it discovered listed on the site and marked as “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.” By Amazon’s own criteria, that label strongly indicates that Amazon was, in fact, the direct seller and shipper of the confirmed counterfeit goods.
“Although Amazon has received significant negative publicity for its facilitation of rampant infringement of intellectual property rights by third parties in the Amazon Marketplace, the sales at issue, in this case, are not merely third-party sales that are facilitated by Amazon in the Amazon Marketplace; rather the sales at issue are infringing products that are ‘shipped from and sold by Amazon.com,’” the lawsuit said.
Daimler claims in the litigation that it has never “authorized or consented to Amazon’s use of the Mercedes-Benz Marks, or any confusingly similar marks, on vehicle parts,” or “authorized Amazon to copy, manufacture, import, market, sell or distribute any vehicle parts bearing the Mercedes-Benz Marks.”
Moreover, the brand noted it warned Amazon about the counterfeit products, to no avail, and the items were not removed from the eCommerce marketplace.
It is not clear what the net effect of the case will be, or if this case will ever see the inside of a court. Amazon can settle and short circuit any potential ruling.