Burned by counterfeits, Amazon and Weber grill rogue sellers in suit over bogus BBQ covers

A product image of a real Weber grill cover that used by one of the alleged sellers of bogus covers. (Via Amazon and Weber vs. Ackary et al, 2:21-cv-01512, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.)

Amazon and Weber filed suit against 12 third-party sellers, alleging that they marketed counterfeit grill covers with the Weber logo under the guise that they were made by the iconic grill manufacturer.

The suit, filed Tuesday in federal court in Seattle, is part of a larger battle by Amazon against counterfeiters in the wilds of its online store, the halls of justice, and the court of public opinion.

“Between October 2018 and September 2021, Defendants collectively advertised, marketed, offered, sold, and distributed at least eleven different types of counterfeit grill covers in the Amazon store using the Weber Trademark,” the suit alleges. The sellers “operated in concert with one another in their marketing, selling, and distribution of inauthentic versions of Weber grill covers,” it claims.

The defendants are listed as a series of seller accounts, most of them with addresses in China, and one in Florida. Amazon says it has shut down the accounts.

Among other remedies, the suit seeks an injunction to stop the unidentified people behind the accounts from selling again on Amazon. It also seeks unspecified financial damages.

In recent years, Amazon has launched a series of internal programs to sniff out counterfeits, created its own Counterfeit Crimes Unit, and filed numerous lawsuits seeking to crack down on bogus products.

It has also publicized its efforts extensively in an effort to counter criticism of its third-party marketplace as a “flea market of fakes,” as the Washington Post put it two years ago.

“If counterfeiters attempt to sell in our store, they don’t just break the law and violate the rights of companies like Weber, they mislead consumers,” said Kebharu Smith, director of Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit, in a news release. “In the rare instances when counterfeiters are able to bypass our enforcement tools and teams, we will find them and hold them fully accountable.”

Amazon blocked more than 10 billion suspected bad listings before they were published in its store last year, the company said previously. Amazon said it invested more $700 million last year to protect its stores from fraud and abuse, employing more than 10,000 people to work on the effort.

The company filed past suits in conjunction with brands including Valentino, cosmetics brand KF Beauty, family travel accessory brand JL Childress, and drinkware and accessory maker YETI, in addition to smaller family-run businesses.

Amazon’s anti-counterfeit programs include its Project Zero initiative, Brand Registry program and Transparency initiative.

The suit says Weber is enrolled in the Brand Registry and Project Zero programs, and used those tools to combat the counterfeits targeted in the lawsuit. Weber also conducted its own investigations, including test purchases to confirm that the products were counterfeit, according to the suit.

Here’s the complaint.

Amazon and Weber vs. Ackary et al by GeekWire on Scribd

Tags
Amazon Counterfeits E-commerce Weber