Automobile manufacturing giant Daimler AG, which owns global automobile manufacturer Mercedes-Benz, has sued e-commerce titan Amazon.com for trademark and design patent infringement in connection with replica Mercedes-Benz wheels built buy a third party and sold on amazon.com. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court of Seattle, seeks to impose liability on Amazon for selling copies of Daimler AG’s wheels and using the MERCEDES-BENZ trademark to do so. The case may open the door to a new level of liability for online retailers who sell counterfeit goods sold on their sites.
Last year, pillowcase maker Milo & Gabby brought a similar suit against Amazon, but lost on a jury verdict because Amazon had technically not made an “offer to sell.” Milo & Gabby appealed the case, explaining that the finding that Amazon, the largest Internet-based retailer in the United States, does not actually sell or offer products for sale is “worthy of appellate review.” Likely in an attempt to avoid the same fate, Daimler AG alleges that the wheel replica listings included the wording “sold by Amazon” and were shipped by Amazon itself. The listings still appear to be active, although they do not appear to claim they are “sold by Amazon.” The results of this case could have far-reaching effects for both online retailers and brand owners.
It appears as though the parties may be working towards a resolution of the case as the parties stipulated to extend the deadline for Amazon to respond to the complaint to June 6, 2016.