Pending decisions in two cases brought by Louboutin, Amazon is uniting with luxury brands to fight against counterfeiting, raising the question of the liability of platforms in cases of this fraudulent practice.

On 15 June 2022, Amazon and Cartier announced that they had jointly filed lawsuits against an American influencer and eight companies accused of advertising, promoting and encouraging the sale of counterfeit luxury goods through Instagram and other websites. The American influencer and his accomplices had managed to circumvent the anti-counterfeiting system that Amazon has been trying to develop for more than two years. In particular, the firm has created a unit specially dedicated to tracking this phenomenon. At the time of its implementation in October 2020, Amazon clearly announced its intention: to go on the offensive and bring to justice the sellers of counterfeit products.

To prosecute counterfeiters, the platform regularly collaborates with brand owners that have suffered from counterfeits, including GOPRO, the Italian luxury brands Valentino and Ferragamo and the cosmetics brand KF Beauty. If Amazon has decided to make the fight against counterfeiting its hobby horse (with more than $900 million spent and more than 12,000 experts employed to this aim in 2021), this is not surprising in view of its economic expansion. With the development of its "luxury stores" in Europe, Amazon has every interest in brands having no doubt about its ability to guarantee the authenticity of products sold on its platform.

Amazon's investments are paying off for the consumer: less than 0.01% of the products sold via the platform have been the subject of a claim for counterfeiting. In July 2022, the platform also announced that it wanted to add another weapon to its fight against counterfeiting by focusing on consumers – in particular, by raising awareness among "Gen Z" of the risks and penalties arising from these fraudulent acts.

A study published by the EU Intellectual Property Office in June 2021 demonstrates that purchases of counterfeit items have significantly increased, whether intentional or not. Indeed, nearly 52% of young Europeans surveyed said that they had bought a counterfeit product. In today's society, social networks have a real impact on the behavior of young people, who are easily trapped by malicious celebrities, as the Cartier case perfectly reflects. By playing on the high price of genuine products and the ease of purchase of counterfeits, influencers make counterfeits much more attractive than the originals. This phenomenon is increasingly accentuated by the development of e-commerce – today, obtaining a counterfeit product is as simple as ordering food.

Nevertheless, the efforts put in place by Amazon are clearly paying off, since it was removed from the blacklist of counterfeit markets published in February 2022 by the United State Trade Representative – it had appeared there multiple in previous editions. The investments made by Amazon are also inspiring other marketplaces. Leboncoin, for example, has in turn developed a process to fight against the sale of counterfeit products in collaboration with brands.

For further information on this topic please contact Gladys Le Turnier or Sidonie Labardant at INLEX IP Expertise by telephone (+33 1 56 59 70 90) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]. The INLEX IP Expertise website can be accessed at inlex.com.