Amazon vs. Fraud: Not Responsible for Fake Goods

Slate: “How much responsibility do companies like Amazon, which are not only retailers but marketplaces for other sellers, have to ensure that the goods on their platforms are the real thing? The answer: Not as much as you probably think.”

“When it comes to its marketplace, the courts usually consider Amazon a facilitator, a platform for consumers to connect with merchants, not unlike how Uber views itself as a platform connecting riders with drivers. Amazon’s legal responsibilities include removing fraudulent listings when they are brought to their attention. As a result, chasing down frauds became a time-consuming and all-but-Sisyphean task for many legitimate sellers and copyright and trademark holders. Proving the fraud was on them, not Amazon.”

“Bringing further insult to legitimate manufacturers: Many fake items are poorly made and fall apart quickly. They cost less because they’re made more cheaply. And because many buyers don’t realize they’ve been the victims of a counterfeiting scam, they blame the company and sometimes post bad reviews online. Fraudsters don’t only cost the copyright-holder sales of the product; they also harm future sales by eroding trust in brands.”

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