Update 2: Amazon is reportedly working on a new Brand Central program to help protect brands from knock-offs. CNET says that few details are yet available, but one of those involved in a pilot scheme said that Amazon’s approach to dealing with counterfeit products has undergone ‘a sea change.’
Update 1: Amazon commented:
There’s no shortage of third-party chargers and cables sold for Apple equipment, some of them claiming to be the genuine article, but Apple has found that even Amazon has been selling counterfeit products labelled as the real thing. The products concerned were sold by Amazon directly, and not by a third-party Marketplace seller.
The items have now been removed from sale, and Apple is suing the company that made them …
Patently Apple reports that Apple has filed a trademark infringement case against Mobile Star LLC, which Amazon named as the primary supplier of the counterfeit products. Apple said that Mobile Star was not only illegally using its trademark, but that the fake chargers had not passed safety tests and posed a risk to consumers.
Apple recently purchased a number of Apple power adapters and charging and syncing cables (collectively “power products”) that were directly sold by Amazon.com – not a third party seller – and determined that they were counterfeit. Amazon.com informed Apple that Mobile Star was its source for the majority of these counterfeit Apple products […]
Counterfeit power products, such as those supplied by Mobile Star, pose an immediate threat to consumer safety because, unlike genuine Apple products, they are not subjected to industry-standard consumer safety testing and are poorly constructed with inferior or missing components, flawed design, and inadequate electrical insulation. These counterfeits have the potential to overheat, catch fire, and deliver a deadly electric shock to consumers while in normal use.
The situation, says Apple, is even worse where third-party sellers are concerned. While the ‘Fulfillment by Amazon’ tag gives buyers confidence that purchased products will be delivered, it gives no assurance that the items are genuine. Indeed, the lawsuit alleges, the vast majority of them are not.
Over the last nine months, Apple, as part of its ongoing brand protection efforts, has purchased well over 100 iPhone devices, Apple power products, and Lightning cables sold as genuine by sellers on Amazon.com and delivered through Amazon’s “Fulfillment by Amazon” program. Apple’s internal examination and testing for these products revealed almost 90% of these products are counterfeit.
Apple argues that its own reputation is damaged when consumers buy what they believe to be genuine products which then fail to perform as they should, or which prove to be dangerous. The company is seeking an injunction against Mobile Star selling fake products, destruction of all counterfeit items and damages of $2M per product type.
Amazon responded, stating that the company ‘has zero tolerance for the sale of counterfeits on our site. We work closely with manufacturers and brands, and pursue wrongdoers aggressively.’
Given the number of fake Apple products available, we always urge caution where the price is significantly lower than the official price. This is especially true in the case of MagSafe power supplies, where any price lower than available from authorized resellers is an immediate warning flag.