The online marketplace has opened up a world of possibilities to both consumers and creators or designers. Retail giant Amazon has made it easy for customers to find goods of all kinds at competitive prices, as well as increasing the ability of retailers to attract buyers. Unfortunately, this useful system is sometimes abused by those who may want to profit off of others’ ideas. For example, a recent lawsuit filed here in New York by Amazon and luxury brand Valentino alleges that a seller used the site to sell shoes that copied a design sold by Valentino. This intellectual property litigation could set a precedent for other online retailers in the future.
The two companies say that Valentino sells a certain shoe style known as the Garavani Rockstud. Their lawsuit alleges that the seller copied this design and used Amazon to market and sell the counterfeit shoes. Valentino says its shoes are iconic and that the studs on them, for which it owns a patent, appear on other designs by the brand as well. The companies allege the seller even used keywords that reference the patented design to increase sales.
This all seems to be part of Amazon’s overall effort to crack down on counterfeit goods sold on its site. Amazon even says that any damages awarded to the joint plaintiffs as a result of the lawsuit will go exclusively to Valentino. The shoes are still being sold on the seller’s own website.
Though this suit involves two giant, global companies, it underscores the value of obtaining patents or copyrights for designs and other creative works for those who create them. Someone else profiting off of a designer’s work is unconscionable. Artists and creators in all mediums considering intellectual property litigation may want to work with an attorney here in New York to determine all available options.