- Amazon announces settlement with influencers in counterfeiting dispute
- Settlement payments to be donated non-profits including INTA’s Unreal Campaign
- Head of Counterfeit Crimes Unit: “sends a strong message to would-be bad actors”
Amazon has reached a settlement with two influencers it accused of using TikTok, Instagram and Facebook to promote and facilitate the sale of counterfeit goods on its platform, as well as on other marketplaces.
In November, we reported that Amazon had filed a lawsuit against 13 individuals and businesses for allegedly advertising, promoting and facilitating the sale of counterfeit luxury goods on its marketplace (Case: 2:20-cv-01662). The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington, claimed that the defendants operated in concert with each other to sell counterfeit products and engage in false advertising. It further alleged that influencers Kelly Fitzpatrick and Sabrina Kelly-Krejci conspired with sellers to evade Amazon’s anti-counterfeiting protections by promoting fake products on Instagram and TikTok, as well as on their own websites.
That activity involved promoting the infringing goods on social media but then directed users to listings of what appeared to be generic, non-infringing goods (with counterfeit items subsequently shipped to the buyer). The move was notable for a number of reasons.
Firstly, while the company has launched numerous anti-counterfeiting lawsuits in collaboration with other brands, this action specifically targeted influencers using social media to promote the goods. Second, the multi-platform nature of the activity was used by Amazon to back up its calls for social media companies to do more to tackle fake goods - Cristina Posa, who was then associate general counsel and director of the Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit, stated at the time: “This case demonstrates the need for cross-industry collaboration in order to drive counterfeiters out of business. Amazon continues to invest tremendous resources to stop bad actors before they enter our store and social media sites must similarly vet, monitor, and take action on bad actors that are using their services to facilitate illegal behaviour.”
Today Amazon announced that it had reached a settlement with Fitzpatrick and Kelly-Krejci, which will see the two influencers make settlement payments to Amazon. These payments will be donated to charities and non-profit organisations. One of those is INTA’s Unreal Campaign, which works to educate those aged 14 to 23 about the importance of trademarks and brands and the dangers of purchasing counterfeit products.
Amazon states that Fitzpatrick and Kelly-Krejci have additionally agreed to fully and unconditionally cooperate with its investigation of, and legal action against, the remaining defendants, as well as suppliers and other actors who are involved with the promotion and sale of counterfeit products. Pursuant to a consent decree, the two are also prohibited from directly or indirectly marketing, advertising, linking to, promoting, or selling any products of any kind on Amazon’s store in the future, without express written authorisation from Amazon.
A press release to be issued later today, announcing the settlement, quotes Kelly-Krejci as saying: “I appreciate the opportunity to resolve this dispute and to assist Amazon.” Fitzpatrick adds: “I would warn others engaged in similar conduct on social media that there will be serious consequences for their actions.”
Providing an Amazon perspective, Kebharu Smith, director of its Counterfeit Crimes Unit, stated: “We are pleased that this settlement has resulted in the individuals recognising the harm they caused, assistance for our investigation moving forward, and that charities will benefit from the recovered funds. This settlement sends a strong message to would-be bad actors that Amazon will find you and hold you fully accountable.”