A bewildering piece of news from Publisher’s Lunch.
Bewildering, because I do not understand Amazon as anything other than the monster that swallowed half of the U.S. I.e., I am not a fan. I never order books from it, never read what passes for reviews on Amazon. I just don’t touch Amazon.
In fact, I consider Amazon part of the Koch Bros Final Solution to Democracy: a monolithic corporation that controls everything and every consumer (you, for instance) and is controlled by…absolutely nothing.
Ergo, that Amazon should sue anybody for anything sort of bewilders me. “Trademark infringement?” So tasteless, isn’t it? Amazon is a corporate behemoth that’s destroyed so many local individual bookstores which can’t sue it.
Anyway, appalled or not, I give you this news. Make of it what you will (but please please STOP ordering books from Amazon. If you can’t get yourself out to a small bookstore, order from Barnes & Noble, at the least.)
Online retailers have been consistently plagued by those who post product reviews for a fee, and some, like Amazon, are clear in declaring that this practice violates their terms of service. Now Amazon is going a step further, filing its first-ever complaint in Washington state court earlier this week. The defendants are Jay Gentile as well as “John Does” running several websites, and Amazon is accusing them of “trademark infringement, false advertising and violations of the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act and the Washington Consumer Protection Act” through the creation of websites that offer to sell verified Amazon reviews from between $19 and $22 per review.
“While small in number, these reviews threaten to undermine the trust that customers, and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers, place in Amazon, thereby tarnishing Amazon’s brand,” Amazon said in the 18-page complaint. “Despite substantial efforts to stamp out the practice, an unhealthy ecosystem is developing outside of Amazon to supply inauthentic reviews. [Gentile’s] businesses consist entirely of selling such reviews.” Amazon wants these websites to stop selling reviews and to stop using Amazon’s name, as well as triple damages, and attorneys fees.
Mark Collins, owner of buyamazonreviews.com, one of the websites named in Amazon’s suit, told the Seattle Times his site “simply offers to help Amazon’s third-party sellers get reviews” and denied the company’s charges. “We are not selling fake reviews. however we do provide unbiased and honest reviews on all the products. And this is not illegal at all.”
Note from me: am I “tarnishing Amazon’s brand” by trashing it here? Who knows? I guess if I am, little one-person me with her one-woman blog will hear from Amazon’s lawyer. But I’m betting I won’t.