World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) (NYSE: WWE) and Amazon today announced joint lawsuits against 13 defendants who attempted to market and sell inauthentic replicas of WWE-branded championship title belts in Amazon’s store, including inauthentic replicas of commemorative title belts as well as the historic World Heavyweight, Universal, Intercontinental, United States and NXT Championship title belt designs.
The Federation combined its proactive IP monitoring and enforcement program with Amazon’s Project Zero and Brand Registry protection tools to detect infringing listings, and the site removed them. Then WWE partnered with Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit to pursue these lawsuits targeting bad actors who attempted to sell counterfeit products and falsely represent their locations and identities.
One of the defendants was found to be operating their fraudulent business out of New Jersey. In addition to the civil lawsuits, Amazon and WWE worked with the Middlesex County, New Jersey, Prosecutor’s Office to pursue these bad actors which led to felony counterfeiting charges against two connected individuals for sale of counterfeit championship title belts.
“Amazon is the benchmark for collaboration with respect to brand infringement online,” said Vice President of Intellectual Property at WWE, Matthew Winterroth. “Official and licensed WWE products, branded by our IP, are trusted by our fans around the world and we go to great lengths to protect consumers from counterfeits and other types of infringements. It’s our hope that other companies look at Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit as a model of how to partner with companies of any size to help combat this relentless threat.”
“Amazon is committed to the authenticity of products in our store and protecting our customers from all forms of counterfeits, including those impacting fans of iconic entertainment brand WWE,” said Kebharu Smith, director of Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit. “We will continue to work with WWE and Middlesex County law enforcement to bring these bad actors to justice.”
WWE’s robust and aggressive IP enforcement program utilizes both internal and external resources to combat counterfeit and infringing products, piracy, and distribution abuse online as well as in physical points of sale. This includes trained internal staff and third-party vendors who consistently monitor online retailers around the world for IP infringements and counterfeit sellers. Amazon’s Project Zero also empowers the Federation to directly remove suspicious listings from their stores. This latest lawsuit with WWE comes after Amazon in 2021 sued or referred over 600 criminals for investigation in the United States, United Kingdom, European Union, and China, an increase of more than 300% over 2020.
Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit – a team of former federal prosecutors, former law enforcement agents, experienced investigators and data analysts – was formed to work with brands and law enforcement to hold bad actors accountable.
Amazon strictly prohibits the sale of counterfeit products, and won’t stop until there are zero counterfeits in its stores. Their efforts to stop counterfeit products is part of an investment of $900,000,000 to protect its stores from fraud, counterfeits, and abuse. This includes using industry-leading tools to verify potential sellers’ identities and ensure product listings are authentic. In 2021, they blocked more than 4,000,000,000 bad listings before they were listed in stores. These listings were suspected of potentially being fraudulent, infringing, counterfeit, or engaging in other forms of abuse.
The court filings are available here:
Case numbers: 2-22-cv-01205 2-22-cv-01209 2-22-cv-01211 2-22-cv-01214 2-22-cv-01216 2-22-cv-01207 2-22-cv-01212 2-22-cv-01210 2-22-cv-01215