Supplier Sues Amazon for Use of Trademarks

On May 22, Illinois heating and ventilation equipment distributor Neuco, Inc., et al filed a trademark infringement complaint against Amazon, alleging that it created confusion in the marketplace with deceptive advertising. Neuco does not manufacture or brand HVACR products, but certain Amazon listings allegedly use the company’s trademark. The case was filed at the Northern District of California before Judge Robert W. Gettleman.

The case revolves around Amazon’s alleged use of Neuco’s two trademarks. Although the company does not sell products as a third-party through Amazon’s website, Neuco claims that its trademark was used to sell certain HVACR products. According to the complaint, “Amazon displays the NEUCO Mark on its website in a confusing and literally false manner to cause a consumer to believe the listing is authorized, endorsed, or sponsored by Neuco.”

One example provided in the complaint is the Amazon product listing for a “Neuco 903600 Flame Sensor.” The plaintiffs explained that it is not the manufacturer of this product and “Amazon also falsely places Neuco’s name in the title of the HVACR part as if Neuco were the manufacturer or brand of the HVACR part…” Amazon allegedly used the Neuco mark for dozens of other HVACR product listings.

Another defendant named in the complaint is PartzStop, a distributor of similar equipment and an Amazon seller. PartzStop is accused of using Neuco’s brand in its listings. The complaint alleged the listings “falsely suggest that the parts are offered with the authorization, endorsement, or sponsorship of Neuco, or that Amazon or PartzStop are in some way affiliated with or sponsored by Neuco.”

Founded as a family business in 1963, Neuco originally distributed parts for repairing heating equipment. The company has since grown and is “recognized by manufacturers and customers as the leading master distributor of HVACR controls in North America,” offering at least 275 product lines. As a result of Amazon and PartzStop’s alleged trademark infringement, Neuco seeks an award of damages and order prohibiting the companies from any further infringement.