Amazon and HanesBrands Team Up Against Counterfeiters in Flurry of Lawsuits

Late last week, Amazon and the clothing company Hanes sued more than two dozen China-based companies for selling counterfeit versions of silicone covers for earbud cases that illegally bear the apparel company’s registered trademarks.

The lawsuits, like one complaint filed against Fujian Huayun Culture Investment Co., Ltd., a Chinese entity doing business as Woah, asserts that Inc., HanesBrands Inc. and HBI Branded Apparel Enterprises, LLC (collectively, HanesBrands) brought the actions to stop the illegal conduct and protect their customers, reputations, and intellectual property from further harm.

Photos of products offered for sale by defendant Fujian in the Amazon store as pictured in the complaint.

A photo of some of the allegedly counterfeit products, from the complaint.

According to the exemplary complaint, HanesBrands, a manufacturer of everyday casual wear and owner of the “iconic” Champion brand, has been victimized by the defendants’ illegal reproduction of its well-recognized and valuable copyrights. The filing also described the efforts Amazon has undertaken to curb the sale of inauthentic products on its third-party seller marketplace, like investing over $700 million and employing more than 10,000 people to protect its store from fraud and abuse in 2020 alone.

The complaint explained that by signing up as third-party sellers, the defendants agreed not to sell inauthentic goods. As of May 21, the filing stated, long after the defendants’ fake products were discovered and blocked from the Amazon store, HanesBrands “launched a limited edition line of electronic accessories, including covers for earbud cases, bearing HanesBrands’ Champion Trademarks.”

The plaintiffs alleged counts of federal trademark infringement, false designation of origin and false advertising, and violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act. The plaintiffs seek an injunction preventing the manufacture and sale of counterfeit items, and more sweepingly, preventing the defendants from selling products in the Amazon store. The filing also seeks damages and the plaintiffs’ litigation costs and attorneys’ fees.

Amazon and HanesBrands are represented by Davis Wright Tremaine LLP in all the earbud case cover actions.

In related news, legislation confronting the problem complained of by Amazon and HanesBrands has recently been introduced to Congress. By contrast, however, the SHOP SAFE Act: Stemming the Rising Tide of Unsafe Counterfeit Products Online, seeks to hold platforms like Amazon’s marketplace accountable if they do not take enough measures to eliminate inauthentic goods that threaten consumer health and safety from their online stores.