On Friday, December 14th, San Francisco, CA-based home outfitting retailer Williams-Sonoma documented a claim in the Northern Area of California asserting cases of trademark and design patent encroachment against Seattle, WA-based web based business mammoth Amazon.com. The claim focuses on Amazon’s example of exchanging upon Williams-Sonoma’s altruism and encroaching the organization’s protected innovation including the utilization of the enlisted stamp “WILLIAMS-SONOMA.” If the charges are valid, this is basically the most recent case of this online business behemoth spurning IP law in an effort to line the pockets of itself and its incredibly affluent CEO Jeff Bezos.
Williams-Sonoma complaint notes of that it has worked an online customer facing facade to move its very own marked goods since 1999, “long before significant penetration of broadband internet services into the U.S. market.” While Williams-Sonoma items are sold at in excess of 600 retail locations and through indexes, in excess of 50 percent of the organization’s deals happen through its online web based business stage. As a proportion of securing the uprightness of its image, Williams-Sonoma noticed that it doesn’t permit the utilization of the WILLIAMS-SONOMA stamp regarding on the web retail benefits.
In spite of this, Williams-Sonoma asserts that, without its approval, Amazon started utilizing a stamp indistinguishable to the WILLIAMS-SONOMA check to retail contending products. On its stage, Amazon records items that are recognized both as Williams-Sonoma items in the title and as being sold by Williams-Sonoma. Amazon additionally works a “Shop Williams-Sonoma” page which isn’t approved by the organization and utilizations the organization’s own copyrighted pictures of its items. Different segments found on Amazon’s site, including “Best Selling Products from Williams-Sonoma,” and focused on email commercials upgrade purchaser disarray by driving clients into suspecting that Amazon is an approved retailer of Williams-Sonoma products.
The complaint goes to claim that Amazon’s activities have made unsalvageable damage purchaser altruism behind the Williams-Sonoma mark. Surveys found internet in regards to the “Williams-Sonoma” merchandise sold by Amazon incorporate various protestations in regards to items transported without the essential segments, items sold at more expensive rates than are accessible on Williams-Sonoma’s very own site and items that, on conveyance, don’t meet the publicized particulars of those items. One specific case of the brand harm caused by purchaser disarray refered to by Williams-Sonoma is a November 2018 correspondence between a client who told a representative at a Williams-Sonoma marked retail location that the client was “dismayed” that Williams-Sonoma would twofold the cost of its items sold on Amazon. In another precedent, certain Williams-Sonoma marked decorations have been publicized as including calfskin yet upon conveyance clients have discovered that they rather utilize a false cowhide substitute.
Williams-Sonoma also argues that Amazon has occupied with purposeful duplicating of its protected innovation behind its West Elm brand of furniture for Amazon’s Bolt image. Items sold under the Bolt mark are purportedly “colorable impersonations” of Williams-Sonoma’s particular licensed and restrictive structures. “It is implausible Amazon could have conceived of a product line with nearly identical product designs which feature product names containing the very same non-descriptive terms WSI uses in connection with those products, other than by intentionally undertaking to copy WSI’s West Elm product line and appropriate the trademarks WSI uses in connection with that line,” the dissension peruses.
Of specific note is Amazon’s supposed duplicating of West Elm’s Sphere seat, the structure of which is secured by U.S. Patent No. D815452, titled Seat. The Sphere seat has been a business accomplishment for Williams-Sonoma, surpassing $2 million in deals amid the initial 10 months of 2018. In Walk 2018, Amazon started moving a Sphere Seat that “is so highly similar that the ordinary observer would be confused by the imitation” because of the indistinguishable structure and the utilization of precisely the same non-illustrative word stamp. Williams-Sonoma further pushed its trademark encroachment claims against Bolt’s Mechanical Incline Top-Grain Calfskin Swivel Office Seat, which is fundamentally the same as West Elm’s Slant Cowhide Swivel Office Seat.
Unfortunately, the idea that Amazon enables the sale of goods that infringe upon trademark or patent rights is an old story that continues to be told over and over again. In October 2017, German automaker Daimler AG sued Amazon for its complicity in the sale of counterfeit Mercedes-Benz parts. Consumer tech giant Apple has claimed that 90 percent of Apple-branded items on Amazon are counterfeits. In recent months, both the Federal Communications Commission and the Government Accountability Office have called out Amazon for allowing the sale of counterfeit set-top boxes and other items. However, given the fact that CEO Jeff Bezos is knowingly complicit in the sale of counterfeit goods on Amazon, it’s not likely that the situation will change any day soon without major intervention from law enforcement.