Cartier is seeking to hold the online giant accountable for “contributory infringement” of its trademark, based on what the French luxury goods company alleged were Amazon.com’s actions as a “broker” for the sale of bogus Cartier watches.
The lawsuit came as Tiffany & Co. announced on Thursday that it had been awarded a $600,000 judgment by a federal court in Philadelphia against a counterfeiter selling his wares via eBay.
In its complaint filed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Cartier, a division of Richemont North America Inc. and Cartier International B.V., also named as defendants New York-based retailer Geneve Gold; its owner, Nathan Gross, and five unidentified persons, or John Does.
Responding to the accusations, an Amazon.com spokesman said: “Amazon.com respects the intellectual property rights of others and we are working cooperatively with all parties involved in the matter.”
With this lawsuit, Cartier joins Tiffany in taking legal action against third parties that are said to provide platforms for the sale of allegedly phony trademark products. Amazon.com sells millions of books, CDs, DVDs, toys, gourmet foods, tools and other goods.
Trademark infringement and counterfeiting in the U.S. exceeds $200 billion annually, with the sale of counterfeit goods over the Internet amounting to more than $30 billion worldwide, according to a lawsuit Tiffany filed in June.
“It’s significant in that it is yet another suit that seeks to hold a third party liable for providing an Internet forum for the sale of the infringing product,’’ said Brian Brokate, a partner in the law firm of Gibney Anthony & Flaherty who is an expert in trademark and copyright enforcement and anticounterfeiting.
The Cartier lawsuit alleged that Geneve Gold sold knockoffs of Cartier’s popular Tank Francaise, Tank Americaine and Panthere watches through Amazon.com and its own genevegold.com. While not taking part in the actual counterfeiting, Cartier asserted that Amazon.com, which receives a percentage of each sale, knowingly profited from the sale of the counterfeit goods.