The field of e-commerce raises new forms of trademark infringement. Although nowadays it is easier than ever to get products from around the world shipped at your doorstep, it also became easier for infringers to offer counterfeit goods for sale abroad. Trademark owners and e-commerce platforms struggle to enforce their rights and policies, as reflected in the recent trademark infringement lawsuits filed by Amazon. Following this interesting case, below we will discuss the legal tools that are available in such situations.
Our Israeli boutique IP law firm specializes in trademark law and intellectual property (IP). The firm represents Israeli and international clients in various trademark legal matters. The firm’s services include representation in trademark enforcement matters, IP registration in Israel and worldwide, portfolio management, etc.
E-Commerce and the Challenges it Brings in Trademark Enforcement
The field of e-commerce is constantly evolving in recent years. Newly advanced online platforms are being developed, providing access for big and small businesses from around the world to offer their products to consumers in almost every spot on the globe. More and more businesses are opening online stores. Some of them even took it further and they are now offering their products exclusively online.
From the business aspect, these promising new opportunities are indeed remarkable. However, from the legal point of view, they raise many issues of trademark and other IP-related rights. These new online marketing methods make it easier for infringers to sell counterfeit products under the radar. As a result, new challenges arise for trademark owners and the authorities in trademark enforcement. It can be well-seen in the recent lawsuits filed by Amazon.
The Amazon Case
According to the reports, a joint lawsuit was recently filed by Amazon and HanesBrands in the federal court in Washington State. The companies are suing 17 infringers for distributing and selling silicone covers for earbud cases with the registered trademark CHAMPION, owned by HanesBrands. It is alleged that the infringing products were sold in Amazon virtual stores. Some of the defendants are China-based individuals and corporations from China and other Asian countries.
These allegedly infringing actions occurred despite Amazon’s strict policy, which prohibits the sale of products that are inauthentic or that may deceive the hundreds of millions of customers that use the platform. An interesting part of the case is that in at least one of the cases, the identity of the seller of the infringing goods is unknown. This fact in itself reveals the problems that internet platforms and businesses face when conducting enforcement of trademark and IP rights.
New Forms of Trademark Infringement – What Actions and Remedies Available Against Them?
While this case deals with earbud accessories, it is important to understand that online infringements and selling of counterfeit goods can happen (and happen) with regards to all types of goods, including clothing, food products, etc. We are currently facing new forms of infringement. In the past, counterfeit goods had to be imported in order to be sold abroad. However, nowadays they can be individually purchased on the internet. It requires the use of “unconventional” tools against these new infringement methods.
The most basic and essential step in order to take legal actions against sellers of infringing goods is locating the sellers and having all the necessary information about them (full name of the person(s) or the business(es), address, telephone number, etc.). In some cases it will be only possible to take legal actions against the infringers in the original country they operate from. In other cases it will be possible to seek legal remedies in the country where the purchases were made. It mainly depends on the circumstances and the countries’ laws.
Another tool which is possible is reaching out to the company that operates the platform and asking for a removal of the infringing products and sellers. It is also possible to request to take joint legal actions against the infringers. In any case, it won’t always be possible to locate the source of the goods. It is thus important for sellers to ensure that the goods they sell are authentic, and consult a trademark law expert when there is a doubt about operating in accordance with the law.
In this short article we discussed the legal challenges in the enforcement of trademark infringement, raised in the field of e-commerce. If you have more inquiries about online trademark and IP enforcement , we will be happy to assist. Our law firm is well experienced with representing clients in various trademark and IP matters, in Israel and abroad.