Protecting our brand and protecting our valued customers from knockoffs is something we are passionate about. We recently filed two federal lawsuits against counterfeiters claiming to be BigMouth, Inc. and attempting to deceive people into buying an inferior, and potentially unsafe product. Can you spot the counterfeit below, purchased on Amazon.com?
BIGMOUTH INC. SWINGS BACK AT COUNTERFEIT SELLERS ON AMAZON.COM
With a lack of progress from using Amazon.com’s anti-counterfeiting measures, noted gift and novelty brand files multi-million dollar lawsuits to protect intellectual property, namesake, and consumers from counterfeit sellers.
GLASTONBURY, CT – July 19, 2016. BigMouth Inc. (bigmouthinc.com), a leading manufacturer of novelty products and gifts, today announced the issuance of lawsuits filed against two nefarious sellers of counterfeit goods on Amazon.com. By infringing upon various combinations of BigMouth Inc.’s trademarks, copyrights, and patents, sellers “SoloFleet” and “Floating Panda” willfully tricked consumers shopping on Amazon.com into thinking they had purchased genuine BigMouth Inc. products, causing irreparable damage to the brand and its mark. The range of counterfeit products consist of BigMouth Inc.’s famous Giant Donut, Pink Flamingo, and Pineapple inflatable pool floats.
The lawsuits emerge at a time of crisis for well-known brands whose intellectual property and trademarks are being exploited on 3rd party marketplaces such as Amazon.com, eBay, and Alibaba. As recently reported by CNBC, Amazon.com has made it even easier for importers to obtain illicit goods directly from China—a hotbed of counterfeit activity—by registering Amazon fulfillment centers with the Federal Maritime Commission.
BigMouth Inc.’s attempts to contact SoloFleet with Cease and Desist notices citing BigMouth Inc.’s trademark, patent, and copyright documentation were unsuccessful. Similar measures to inform Floating Panda were met with a defiant reply from Matthew McAlister, the claimed CEO, against concrete proof of illicit activity. Despite making the required test purchases from each seller, and proper submission of intellectual property infringement claims, the sellers were permitted to continue sales on Amazon.com. In addition, Amazon’s 3rd Party Marketplace—a marketplace for selling on Amazon.com—makes it possible to obscure a seller’s true identity, as well as continue the sale of goods under different aliases. This offers counterfeit sellers additional time and space to conduct illicit transactions.
Amazon in particular offers few tools for intellectual property owners to enact brand protection measures—most of which are ineffective and/or impractical due to the lengths of time that pass until responses from Amazon.com’s staff are provided—of which are notoriously vague or unclear. Further, Amazon.com’s online reporting interface traps brand owners into seemingly endless submit-and-resubmit loops on Amazon.com’s website. These traits are well-noted among Amazon sellers, attracting more sellers to sell on the platform regardless of product integrity or the resulting customer experience. Should a consumer sustain injury from using a counterfeit float, their attempts to contact these sellers would be extremely difficult—quite the opposite of Amazon’s promise of a friction-free shopping experience.
“We spend a tremendous amount of resources on developing unique product, and then registering our IP through the proper channels so we may offer it to the market for resale.” commented Founder and CEO Steve Wampold, “These sellers are knowingly selling an inferior product bearing our likeness, on platforms they know are loosely policed—bypassing the structures designed to conduct good business. Counterfeit goods are not manufactured with the same integrity as a genuine BigMouth product—they are unsafe, unsanitary, and of poor quality. Consumers are tricked into owning these goods, and then the brands are left to clean up the mess.”
Wampold added, “The ripple effects of illicit goods can be devastating. From the salesman at an independent gift store who loses a sale to a counterfeit to our own 20-plus employees—many with families—everyone loses. Even worse, these counterfeit products are not tested or brought into compliance for mass consumption like genuine BigMouth products. Counterfeit goods put innocent people at risk from a safety, health, and economic standpoint.”
Although the damage to BigMouth Inc.’s reputation is beyond repair, the lawsuit seeks $2,000,000.00 per instance of counterfeit BigMouth product. As BigMouth Inc. has a carefully selected network of high-visibility retail partners, the brand urges consumers to alert BigMouth Inc. if they spot a potential counterfeit seller or product at BigMouthInc.com/contact.
BigMouth, Inc. is represented by K&L Gates, LLP in the two lawsuits.