Three lawsuits have been filed by Amazon against certain groups, claiming that these sellers were abusing Amazon’s takedown system by filing thousands of illegitimate copyright complaints against other products in an attempt to get consumers to buy their merchandise instead.
According to the lawsuits, the alleged sellers didn’t only file fake complaints, the parties also allegedly “created fake, disposable websites, with product images scraped from the Amazon store” and tried to use them as evidence to prove they were legitimate copyright holders. It’s surprising that the sellers had enough confidence to copy an image and then present it as evidence of theft to the person you copied it from, as it takes an impressive amount of audacity to do so.
Sidesk is just one of the accused defendants who took things too far, as they allegedly used “fraudulent” trademark application to get into the Amazon Brand Registry program. This allows companies to search for and manage scans of fraudulent listings that copy their products. Amazon claims the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled Sidesk’s trademark application, but the defendant used it regardless.
The case goes much, much deeper than Sidesk. The application for the trademark was allegedly filed by a company called Shenzhen Huanyee Intellectual property Co., Ltd., which the Patent and Trademark Office decided to sanction for “filing over 15,800 trademark applications using false, fictitious, or fraudulent domicile information and/or credentials,” according to a statement in the lawsuit.
Sidesk was also by far the worst offender, according to Amazon, with around 3,850 filing takedown requests. The other offenders, Dhuog and Vivcic, allegedly filed 229 and 59, respectively, over the course of a few months. Occasionally, the requests were successful. “In limited circumstances, Defendants’ scheme worked and materials related to some product listings were temporarily taken down from the Amazon Store in response to Defendants’ invalid complaints,” The lawsuit stated.
DMCA, or the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, is Amazon’s system for dealing with takedown requests, but it can be a difficult line to walk between making it easy for legitimate claimants to get products taken down versus creating a system that false sellers can easily abuse.
Amazon states it “has a number of robust protections in place to detect and stop bad actors from attempting to submit fake and abusive notices of infringement,” but the system isn’t perfect.
This problem isn’t just limited to Amazon; creators on Youtube have had long-term issues with the website’s copyright claiming system, allowing both companies and scammers to file illegitimate claims to take a creator’s ad revenue and, in extreme cases, have the content taken completely off the site. If these Amazon lawsuits are successful, they may discourage abusers of the system away from scamming.