June 15, 2022 - Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Cartier today announced two joint lawsuits against a social media influencer and eight businesses (collectively, the “defendants”) for advertising, promoting, and facilitating the sale of counterfeit luxury goods through Instagram and other websites, infringing on Cartier’s registered trademarks and violating Amazon’s policies.
The lawsuits were filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington and allege the defendants colluded with each other to sell counterfeit products and engage in false advertising.
“By using social media to promote counterfeit products, bad actors undermine trust and mislead customers,” said Kebharu Smith, associate general counsel and director of the Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU). “Amazon will keep investing and innovating to stay ahead of counterfeiters, and working with brands and law enforcement to hold bad actors accountable. We don’t just want to chase them away from Amazon—we want to stop them for good.”
Among the nine defendants, the lawsuits allege that a social media influencer conspired with bad actors to attempt to circumvent Amazon’s anti-counterfeiting detection tools by promoting counterfeit luxury products—including fake Cartier bracelets, necklaces, and rings—on Instagram as well as their own websites.
The criminals openly posted photos of counterfeit Cartier jewelry, with a description of the infringing product on Instagram, but on Amazon and other websites, they created product detail pages for generic products with no indication of infringement. The defendants then provided customers on Instagram a link to the generic product on Amazon or other websites, and they told customers if they purchased the generic item, they would receive a counterfeit Cartier product.
One such product attempted to replicate Cartier’s iconic LOVE bracelet, which was first introduced as part of Cartier’s LOVE collection in 1969. This product was listed on Amazon disguised as a non-branded product with the description “Women’s Fashion Classic Screw Love Titanium Steel Bracelet” with no mention of Cartier and an image that carefully concealed the screw motif of Cartier’s authentic LOVE bracelet. On Instagram the product was clearly advertised as a counterfeit with images bearing the Cartier name and screw motif. When the generic product was purchased from Amazon, the counterfeit Cartier LOVE bracelet bearing the Cartier trademarks was shipped to the customer.
The criminals repeatedly directed and instructed their social media followers on how to try to purchase infringing products on Amazon, by directing them to links or sending direct messages from Instagram, on how to purchase “high-quality copies” of luxury brands such as Cartier in the Amazon store and other online marketplaces.
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.
The Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit is a global team with specialized experience in investigating and bringing legal action against bad actors to protect consumers and brands. The CCU works closely with law enforcement and brand partners to investigate and litigate, including bringing both criminal and civil suits. It has filed a series of lawsuits against counterfeiters in partnership with brands such as YETI, GoPro, Hanes, 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.
The court filings can be seen here:
- Case: 2:22-cv-00840, United States District Court for the Western District of Washington
- Case: 2:22-cv-00841, United States District Court for the Western District of Washington