Amazon is suing sellers for making false takedown requests to competitors

Amazon has filed three lawsuits against groups it alleges abused its takedown system by filing thousands of illegal copyright complaints against other products in an effort to get people to buy their goods. In an announcement Thursday, the company called the lawsuits a “new offensive against bad actors.”

According to the lawsuits (which you can read here, here and here), the alleged bad actors didn’t just file false complaints and then sit back and wait to see if they worked out. Amazon says the parties “also created fake throwaway websites with product images scraped from the Amazon store” and attempted to use them as evidence that they were legitimate copyright holders. There’s a kind of dark humor here – it takes an impressive level of audacity to copy an image and then present it as proof that the person you copied it from is stealing from you.

Amazon says alleged fraudsters were involved in a web of fake sites and trademarks

Amazon accuses one defendant, who registered under the name “Sidedesk,” of going even further. The complaint states that he used a “fraudulent” trademark application to access the Amazon Brand Registry program, which allows companies to find and manage scans of fraudulent listings that copy their products. Amazon claims that the US Patent and Trademark Office quashed the trademark application, but Sidekick used it anyway.

The rabbit hole gets even deeper with Sidekick. That trademark application was allegedly filed by a company called Shenzhen Huani Intellectual Property Co., Ltd., which was eventually dismissed by the Patent and Trademark Office as “more than 15,800 trademark applications using false, fictitious or fraudulent residence information and/or references.” was approved for entry”. ,” the lawsuit said.

Sidekick was also by far the worst offender, with about 3,850, according to Amazon’s lawsuits. Others, Dhog and Vivik are said to have accumulated 229 and 59 respectively in the course of a few months. According to the suit, they were sometimes successful. “Under limited circumstances, Defendants’ scheme worked and content relating to certain product listings was temporarily removed from the Amazon store in response to Defendants’ invalid complaints.”

Amazon’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act (or DMCA) system clearly has legitimate uses – if someone tried to sell a shirt with Mickey Mouse on it, Disney would have the legal right to remove it because it owns the character’s copyright. (for now) … but as these cases show, it can be difficult to walk the line between making it easy for legitimate claimants to take products offline and creating a system open to malicious parties to exploit. Amazon says it has “some strong protections in place to try and prevent opponents from attempting to file false and defamatory infringement notices,” but nothing is perfect.

It’s not just Amazon’s problem, though. YouTubers have long complained that the site’s copyright claim system allows companies and scammers to make illegitimate claims to extort a creator or steal their advertising revenue, often (but not always) with no real results. It happens. If Amazon’s lawsuits are successful, they could deter those who want to abuse the system.

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