Amazon and Brother, the business technology solutions provider, today announced legal action against eighteen suspected members of a Germany-based counterfeit ring (collectively, the “defendants”), who attempted to deceive customers by selling fake toner cartridges marketed as genuine products. This action is Amazon’s first civil lawsuit filed jointly with a brand against counterfeiters in Europe.

The lawsuit was filed with the Regional Court of Berlin and alleges the defendants colluded to sell fake products and evade Amazon and Brother’s systems. The legal action was driven by Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU), a global team with specialised experience in investigating and bringing legal action against bad actors to protect customers, selling partners, and brands. In addition to filing the lawsuit, the companies referred the alleged counterfeit ring to local police.

“We have zero tolerance for counterfeit products in our stores. This is the first lawsuit of its kind we have filed in Europe, and makes it crystal clear that we take aggressive action to hold bad actors accountable wherever they operate,” said Kebharu Smith, director of the Amazon CCU. “We will continue to fight alongside businesses of all sizes to protect customers from fake products and protect brands from having their intellectual property rights infringed.”

“Brother places its customers first everywhere, every time. We are committed in detecting counterfeits online and offline by working with our partners such as Amazon CCU and law enforcement authorities in order to protect our customers,” said Isao Noji, Managing Director of Brother International Europe Ltd.

The suspected fraudsters are alleged to have purchased empty original Brother toner cartridges and refilled them with inauthentic toner powder, in addition to selling fake cartridges designed to look like genuine products. The defendants took steps to hide their intentions, such as adding fake holographic security labels, which are present on Brother cartridge packaging. The counterfeit products can harm printers, and can also damage the environment.

Amazon is deeply committed to protecting brands’ intellectual property and strictly prohibits counterfeit products in its stores. In 2021, Amazon invested more than $900 million and employed more than 12,000 people dedicated to protecting customers, brands, selling partners, and the store from counterfeit, fraud, and other forms of abuse. Amazon’s proactive investments in preventing counterfeits include robust seller vetting, advanced machine learning technologies, and industry-leading brand protection tools like Project Zero, Brand Registry, and Transparency.

Amazon’s CCU works closely with law enforcement and brand partners around the world to investigate illicit trade activity. It has filed a series of lawsuits against counterfeiters in partnership with brands such as GoPro, Cartier, Valentino, Salvatore Ferragamo, and many others. More on Amazon’s efforts to protect brands and hold bad actors accountable be found in Amazon’s latest Brand Protection Report.

Mr Noji of Brother International Europe added: “Protecting intellectual property has become one of the most important actions for Brother. It is not only about protecting our trademarks, copyrights, and patents; but also protecting our customers and the trust they have in our products and brand. It is of vital importance for Brother customers and partners to always buy from reliable channels, suppliers and retailers; to authenticate the product and verify it is genuine; and check the packaging and the printing quality.”

For more information on our commitment to protect brands and customers, read our latest Brand Protection Report.