Customization Website Sued for Selling ‘Massive Amount’ of Counterfeit Items

On Monday, a consumer filed a lawsuit against Redbubble Inc. for allegedly selling counterfeit products on its website. The complaint claimed, citing the California Unfair Competition Law (UCL) and Consumer Legal Remedies Act, that the plaintiff, who purchased illegitimate goods from RedBubble, received products of lesser quality than authentic licensed merchandise and that, because they are knockoffs, the goods have “zero value.”

The Eastern District of California complaint explained that through Redbubble’s website, visitors can upload designs. San Francisco, California-based Redbubble then affixes the designs to blank products, like t-shirts, phone cases, stickers, and prints. The filing featured examples of user-generated products, like a t-shirt emblazoned with Nike’s trademarked “Swoosh.” The complaint clarified that this example depicts a non-authentic, counterfeit product.

The filing claimed that the website is “saturated with counterfeit and infringing products, with sales of such products accounting for millions upon millions of dollars in yearly revenue to Redbubble.” The company allegedly refuses to disable use of well-known trademarks as keywords on its platform and refuses to proactively search for counterfeit or infringing items on its website. In addition, because Redbubble makes use of online advertisement, online searches for well-known trademarks reportedly cause Redbubble’s counterfeit items to appear side by side with legitimate merchandise.

The complaint alleged that in 2019, the company reported 76% of its product revenue originated from authentic sellers. Thus, in the plaintiff’s view, 24% of Redbubble’s sales were inauthentic or infringing, which would mean that the company sold approximately $46.56 million worth of illegitimate products that year, however, the plaintiff deems that this figure is smaller than the actual amount. The complaint noted that Redbubble has previously been sued for intellectual property abuse, and has also been found liable for infringement in its home country of Australia.

The complaint seeks to certify a class of consumers who bought goods from Redbubble that violate the Lanham Act and Copyright Act, or similar state-law statutes, and enjoin the company from selling counterfeit goods in the future. The plaintiff and putative class also request equitable restitution under the UCL “in the form of the difference in value between legal products and the illegal counterfeits or infringing goods actually received by Plaintiff and the Customer Class.”

The plaintiff is represented by Browne George Ross O’Brien Annaguey & Ellis LLP.