Williams-Sonoma has an Amazon problem, so it's taking the company to court to solve it.

Last week, the San Francisco-based home goods retailer filed a lawsuit accusing Amazon of both selling counterfeit products on its platform and copying Williams-Sonoma's  proprietary designs for its own private label brand, The Washington Post reports. While it is third-party retailers who allegedly sell counterfeit products on Amazon--a problem the company has dodged by citing its role simply as a middleman between buyer and seller--Amazon is actively marketing counterfeit goods as "by Williams-Sonoma," the lawsuit alleges. Williams-Sonoma also alleges Amazon copied two of its chair designs, the "Orb" and the "Slope."

"To protect the integrity of its brand, [Williams-Sonoma] does not license [its brand] in connection with online retail services," reads the complaint, adding that the way Williams-Sonoma's products are advertised on Amazon's platform creates "a strong impression of affiliation between the two" when there is none. Amazon declined to comment. Williams-Sonoma did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Williams-Sonoma is asking Amazon to pay $2 million per counterfeit item in statutory damages, legal fees, and damages for trademark infringement and disgorgement of profits in an amount to be determined by the court. The home goods retailer alleges Amazon's actions may cause consumers to associate the Williams-Sonoma brand with "overpriced, low-quality or potentially unsafe goods or services." 

Amazon has a checkered history with counterfeit items sold on its platform. Despite the company's efforts to deter them, some third-party sellers still list counterfeit products ranging from Apple electronics to Nike shoes, and many others. Amazon has a program called "Brand Registry" that lets brands share product information and photos with Amazon so it can scan its platform for counterfeit goods. Companies like Nike have opted to partner with and sell their products on Amazon directly so they can fight the knockoffs.

Published on: Dec 20, 2018