Amazon and YETI Filed a Joint Lawsuit Against Mug Counterfeiters
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
In another counterfeiting lawsuit filed by Amazon and a third-party product provider, a California couple is facing allegations of counterfeiting and infringement over YETI trademarks, specifically the YETI RAMBLER insulated drinkware.
From February to September of 2020, a California couple allegedly marketed and sold counterfeit YETI products via Amazon.
When Amazon began receiving customer complaints about the quality of some drinkware being marketed as YETI products, and YETI received notice from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection about a shipment of counterfeit YETI lids that had been seized, suspicions of fraud became evident. California couple Michael and Karen White were allegedly using selling accounts Gadsen Flags in USA and The Cyber Bargain Portal to sell counterfeit drinkware to customers who expected a genuine YETI product and were subsequently disappointed by the much lower-quality knockoffs.
YETI has long been known for the exceptional quality of their outdoor products, coolers, and drinkware.
According to the official complaint, YETI’s image as a customer-focused, quality-driven company has been intentionally fostered and maintained, and “These counterfeit sales have resulted in consumer confusion and significantly harmed YETI and the consumer goodwill associated with the YETI brand.” One of YETI’s primary goals is expanding brand awareness among customers and potential customers, and as a result, “...consumers know and identify products bearing or sold under the YETI Trademarks as being high-quality merchandise sponsored and approved by YETI.” This is not the first lawsuit YETI had been involved in regarding the protection of their brand reputation; in recent years they filed trademark infringement lawsuits against several other parties for marketing similar products or products similarly named that might have otherwise caused confusion among customers.
In 2019, Amazon Project Zero was launched.
Amazon Project Zero is a fraud prevention program used alongside other existing fraud detection and prevention programs to “help drive counterfeits to zero” through the use of product tracing. The defendants in this lawsuit allegedly received several cease-and-desist notices from YETI continued to illegally sell the products on Amazon, despite the online retail giant’s prohibition of selling inauthentic or fraudulent products; a rule that sellers agree to before being allowed to sell on the marketplace. Upon discovering the fraud, Amazon closed the Whites’ seller accounts and refunded all customers who purchased one of the fraudulent products.
The lawsuit is seeking a variety of damages on YETI’s behalf.
Along with the request for several orders to be entered by the court which would require the defendants to surrender any remaining fraudulent products as well as relevant business records, the complaint is also seeking that defendants be required to pay whatever damages YETI sustained as a result of the fraudulent marketing and products. This is not the first nor is it likely to be the last fraudulent product lawsuit Amazon is involved in. With so many sellers in their marketplace, trademark infringement issues will continue to be monitored and addressed through legal recourse as necessary.