'Hocus Pocus 2' Review Wi-Fi 6 Router With Built-In VPN Sleep Trackers Capital One Claim Deadline Watch Tesla AI Day Student Loan Forgiveness Best Meal Delivery Services Vitamins for Flu Season
Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
No, thank you

Amazon goes after alleged Vera Bradley and OtterBox fakes

The e-commerce company files four lawsuits against alleged sellers of counterfeit goods.

Getty Images

Amazon is working to boot phony Vera Bradley handbags and OtterBox phone cases from its website.

The company on Thursday filed four lawsuits in federal court in Washington state against a handful of alleged sellers of counterfeit goods on its online store. In three of the lawsuits, it filed along with Vera Bradley, and in another it filed along with Otter Products.

"Amazon strictly prohibits the sale of counterfeit goods, and any supplier that violates our policies will be held accountable," an Amazon spokeswoman said Thursday. "We take this fight seriously and will continue to partner with stakeholders to protect our marketplace."

Amazon since 2015 has stepped up legal action against alleged scammers and counterfeiters on its e-commerce site and on its book self-publishing platform, in hopes of weeding out fakes and deterring future bad actors.

The company has repeatedly said these scammers are a small minority of the sellers and entrepreneurs on its site. But the company has found that snuffing out counterfeiters is a notoriously difficult problem, as scammers tend to change tactics as quickly as they are found out.

Frustrated with Amazon's efforts to stop counterfeiters, the retailer Elevation Lab called out Amazon last week and the shoemaker Birkenstock decided to pull its inventory from Amazon.

Amazon said it employs dedicated teams of software engineers, research scientists, program managers and investigators to run its anti-counterfeiting program. It uses automated systems to continually scan its site for potential counterfeits and bad actors, Amazon said.

In one suit Thursday, Amazon and Vera Bradley sued Linda Kurth, of Florida, who allegedly sold fake Vera Bradley goods through her Amazon seller account. US Customs and Border Protection contacted Vera Bradley in June, saying it seized four shipments that originated from China at ports of entry in Chicago.

The shipments contained more than three dozen backpacks, handbags and purses, all with counterfeit Vera Bradley trademarks. The importer listed was Kurth and the shipments were headed to the same address she had on her Amazon seller account.

Kurth supplied an invoice that she claimed showed she acquired the inventory lawfully, but Amazon and Vera Bradley tested one item -- "Midnight with Mickey Disney Campus Backpack by Vera Bradley" -- and confirmed it was a phony, the lawsuit stated.

Kurth's seller account was shut down, and Amazon is suing over trademark infringement, copyright infringement and breach of contract. Amazon asked the court to bar Kurth and any of her employees from its site and force her to pay damages. Kurth couldn't be reached for comment.

The three other suits offered similar stories, with one claiming a wider conspiracy involving a handful of seller accounts and many more alleged counterfeit sellers.

In one sign of Amazon finding success through the legal system, in December it was able to bar one counterfeit seller, Cheng Hak Yung, from its site. Yung was sued in late 2016 for selling fake TRX workout gear.

The Smartest Stuff: Innovators are thinking up new ways to make you, and the things around you, smarter.

Blockchain Decoded:  CNET looks at the tech powering bitcoin -- and soon, too, a myriad of services that will change your life.