For years, Amazon and Apple have fought their own battles when it comes to counterfeit products: third-party retailers selling lookalike Apple accessories and companies hawking fake name-brand products on the e-commerce site. Now, the two issues have come together, with a lawsuit claiming that 90% of the supposed Apple power accessories listed on the site are fake.
The revelation came as Apple filed a trademark lawsuit against Mobile Star LLC, claiming the company sold counterfeit power products — like adapters and charging cables — on Amazon, Patently Apple reports.
According to the lawsuit [PDF], Mobile Star illegally used Apple’s trademark to sell the products, which were not safety tested and posed risks to consumers.
“Counterfeit power products, such as those supplied by Mobile Star, pose an immediate threat to consumer safety because, unlike genuine Apple products, they are not subjected to industry-standard consumer safety testing and are poorly constructed,” the suit states, noting that the fake products have the potential to overheat, catch fire, and deliver a deadly electric shock to customers.
The company claims that Mobile Star, which uses Apple marketing materials and photos for the products sold on Amazon, deceives customers into believing they are receiving genuine Apple products, which are subjected to rigorous testing for safety and reliability.
“When consumers encounter [Apple’s trademarks] and decide to purchase goods and services identified by these marks, they expect to receive genuine Apple products that have been produced by Apple,” the suit states.
However, that’s not the case for many of the accessories sold on Amazon — including those from Mobile Star — the lawsuit claims.
Apple brought the lawsuit against Mobile Star after purchasing more than 100 iPhone devices, power products, and lightning cables from Amazon over the past nine months, finding that 90% were fake.
Most of those products, Apple says, were purchased directly from Amazon, not third-party sellers. To that end, Amazon notified Apple that the products it sold were supplied by Mobile Star, which also supplied similar accessories for sites like Groupon.
Amazon.com turned over to Apple additional inventory of the power products purchased from Mobile Star, and Apple determined that the vast majority of these products were fake, Patently Apple reports.
Apple contends that, because of Amazon’s reputation and Mobile Star’s use of Apple marketing images, customers likely have little reason to suspect the accessories sold on the site are anything but genuine.
Still, Apple points to several customer reviews on Amazon’s site that claim the accessories overheat, smolder, and in some cases catch fire.
In one case, cited in the lawsuit, a customer says that “after a few hours of use on the very first day, the charger literally caught on fire.”
Apple says in the lawsuit that its efforts to combat counterfeit products sold on Amazon are ongoing: the company identified and reports many thousands of listing for counterfeit or infringing Apple to Amazon under its notice and takedown procedures.
“Apple is concerned that consumers are being deceived into purchasing counterfeit products on Amazon.com and elsewhere in the mistaken belief that they are purchasing genuine Apple products,” the suit states.
With the lawsuit, Apple is asking a court to bar Mobile Star from infringing on its trademarks and copyrights, require the company to forfeit and destroy all counterfeit products, and award the Apple unspecified damages.
by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist