Recovering Damages from Brands for Filing False Counterfeit Complaints

Major brands continue to abuse Amazon’s intellectual property system. Brands’ counterfeit complaints against Amazon sellers are often baseless because Amazon sellers are selling genuine products. They are simply NOT selling counterfeit goods. Our experience dictates that brands assert false counterfeit complaints against Amazon sellers to impose higher prices on consumers.

False counterfeit complaints asserted against Amazon sellers often result in the suspension of the seller’s account or important Amazon listings, and the loss of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of dollars in sales. Amazon sellers have recourse under at least two legal claims.

Defamation and Defamation Per Se

The first legal claim that suspended Amazon sellers may have against a brand that made a false counterfeit complaint is defamation. Again, the laws surrounding defamation vary from state to state but using New York as an example, defamation is a false statement, published to a third party without privilege or authorization, with fault amounting to at least negligence, that caused special harm or defamation per se. [1]

Defamation Per Se is where the false accusation is that you engaged in a crime, like knowingly selling counterfeit goods.

The basic factors pertaining to suspended Amazon sellers who received false complaints that they were selling counterfeit products is:

  • False Statement: The false counterfeit complaint sent to Amazon is the false statement described in the law;
  • Publication: When the brand sent the false statement to Amazon via email, letter or Amazon’s submission form, that qualifies as a “publication” of the false accusation of counterfeit;
  • Negligent: When the brand fails to check your products and confirm that you were selling genuine products and not counterfeit, that qualifies the negligent element of the case;
  • Harm to the Amazon Seller: The suspension of your account, the loss of sales and even the diminished value of your business qualifies as “harm.”

Tortious Interference with Contract

The second legal claim suspended Amazon sellers have when brands make false complaints that you sold counterfeit goods is tortious interference with contract.

While the law regarding tortious interference varies between states, the idea is the same as New York law. A claim for tortious interference is established when a brand interferes with an Amazon seller’s contract with Amazon with a false complaint that the seller sold counterfeit products.

The legalese for claims of tortious interference with contract is that the claim is established when “a valid contract existed which a third party knew about, the third party intentionally and improperly procured the breach of the contract, and the breach resulted in damage to the plaintiff.” [2]

When we break down the elements of the legal claim for suspended sellers who received false complaints that they sold counterfeit products, it is as follows:

  • A Valid Contract: This is your contract to sell on Amazon;
  • Third Party knew about the Contract: The brand knew you were selling on Amazon;
  • Third Party Intentionally Procured a Breach of the Contract: The Brand intentionally issued a complaint against your Amazon account and because of the brand’s counterfeit complaint, Amazon suspended your account or listing;
  • Damages: You lost sales and/or the value of your Amazon based business was diminished because of the false counterfeit complaint asserted against you.

When brands assert false counterfeit complaints against Amazon sellers, suspended sellers may be entitled to recover their damages against the brands that asserted the false counterfeit complaints.

By Travis J. Stockman, Esq.

[1] Dillon v City of New York, 261 AD2d 34, 38, 704 NYS2d 1 (1999).

[2] Ullmannglass v. Oneida, Ltd.Eyeglasses, 927 N.Y.S.2d 702, 705 (2011) (quoting Clearmont Prop., LLC v. Eisner, 872 N.Y.S.2d 725 (2009) (internal quotations omitted)).

Suing the NFL for Baseless Complaints

Have you been falsely accused of selling counterfeit products?

You may be entitled to significant damages.

If you are selling on Amazon and have been falsely accused of selling counterfeit products, WE want to talk to YOU.


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