Apple has filed a lawsuit against Mobile Star LLC, accusing the firm of infringing upon its registered trademarks and copyrights by selling counterfeit 5W USB Power Adapters and Lightning to USB cables on Amazon and Groupon, according to court documents published electronically this week.
Apple’s four claims for relief cover the following:
- Trademark Counterfeiting and Infringement
- False Designation of Origin
- Copyright Infringement
- Unfair Competition
Apple brings this action to protect its customers from dangerous counterfeit power products such as power adapters and charging cables that Amazon.com sourced from Defendant Mobile Star (and sold through its internet-based e-commerce platform located at www.amazon.com. Mobile Star also supplied Groupon, Inc./Groupon Goods, Inc. with dangerous counterfeit Apple power products that Groupon then sold to consumers through Groupon’s e-commerce platform. Counterfeit power products, such as those supplied by Mobile Star, pose an immediate threat to consumer safety because, unlike genuine Apple products, they are not subjected to industry-standard consumer safety testing and are poorly constructed with inferior or missing components, flawed design, and inadequate electrical insulation. These counterfeits have the potential to overheat, catch fire, and deliver a deadly electric shock to consumers while in normal use. A white paper recently published by the consumer product safety and testing organization UL (formerly Underwriters Laboratories) reported that counterfeit Apple charging products often “lack the safety features necessary to protects users from shock and fire hazards,” and UL tested twelve counterfeit Apple power adapters that “were so poorly designed and constructed that they posed a risk of lethal electrocution to the user.”1 The safety of Apple’s customers is of paramount importance to Apple, and Apple devotes significant resources to ensuring its power products meet industry safety standards and are subjected to rigorous testing for safety and reliability. Apple brings this suit to stop Mobile Star from any further distribution of counterfeit Apple products to the public.
Consumers, relying on Amazon.com’s reputation, have no reason to suspect the power products they purchased from Amazon.com are anything but genuine. This is particularly true where, as here, the products are sold directly “by Amazon.com” as genuine Apple products using Apple’s own product marketing images. Consumers are likewise unaware that the counterfeit Apple products that Amazon.com sourced from Mobile Star have not been safety certified or properly constructed, lack adequate insulation and/or have inadequate spacing between low voltage and high voltage circuits, and pose a significant risk of overheating, fire, and electrical shock.
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Over the last nine months, Apple, as part of its ongoing brand protection efforts, has purchased well over 100 iPhone devices, Apple power products, and Lightning cables sold as genuine by sellers on Amazon.com and delivered through Amazon’s “Fulfillment by Amazon” program. Apple’s internal examination and testing for these products revealed almost 90% of these products are counterfeit. Apple is concerned that consumers are being deceived into purchasing counterfeit products on Amazon.com and elsewhere in the mistaken belief that they are purchasing genuine Apple products. In addition to Apple’s significant safety concerns for its consumers, these products, which are consistently poorly constructed, are unlikely to function as well as genuine Apple products. As a result, consumers will erroneously come to think that Apple’s products are of inferior quality and lose trust in the Apple brand, damaging the enormous goodwill associated with the Apple trademarks.
Keywords: Trademark, copyright, infringement, Apple.inc, Amazon.com, unfair competition.