Amazon, Cartier Sue Social Media Influencer, Businesses, Over Counterfeits
SEATTLE – Amazon and Cartier filed joint lawsuits against an unnamed social media influencer and eight businesses on Wednesday on claims they advertised, promoted, and facilitated the sale of counterfeit luxury goods through Instagram and other websites.
The federal lawsuits, filed in the Western District of Washington, accuse the defendants of colluding to infringe on Cartier’s registered trademarks and violating Amazon’s policies by selling counterfeit products and engaging 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, in a written statement.
“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,” Smith said.
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 allegedly posted photos of counterfeit Cartier jewelry, with a description of the infringing product on Instagram, and then in posts on Amazon and other websites, 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 LOVE bracelet, which was first introduced as part of the jeweler’s LOVE collection in 1969, the lawsuits say.
This product was allegedly 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.
The complaints say the product was clearly advertised on Instagram 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 trademark was shipped to the customer, the plaintiff companies say.
According to the lawsuits, the defendants 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, as well as on how to purchase “high-quality copies” of luxury brands such as Cartier in the Amazon store and other online marketplaces.
The court filings are Case: 2:22-cv-00840 and 2:22-cv-00841, both in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington.