A complaint filed by Amazon Tuesday in the Western District of Washington brought allegations of trademark infringement and false designation of origin against an unidentified group of affiliate marketers. According to the filing, affiliate marketers “refer people to websites for money.”
The complaint alleged that the defendants used text message campaigns to generate traffic that could be monetized, adding that the texts “deceive victims into believing [they] are from Amazon.” Amazon explained that the text mesages uses its trademarks to achieve this, as well as through other means, such as by referring to the target as a “customer” and linking to a survey where the target is referred to as an “Amazon Shopper.” The survey purportedly leads not to a reward, as promised, but instead a link to purchase an unrelated product.
According to screenshots of the text messages at issue, the marketers drum up traffic with the promise of Amazon Prime credit or technology items like Apple AirPods or MacBook Pro laptops. The filing explained that users who follow the links in the texts are routed through a number of domains. The aforementioned survey page, according to images in the complaint, is designed to visually resemble Amazon’s user interface “to deceive victims into believing the survey originates with or is sponsored by Amazon.”
While the complaint does not name a specific number of defendants, nor identify any defendant, the complaint lists “John Does 1-50” as the recipient of the lawsuit. The plaintiffs are seeking a permanent injunction against the defendants and a disgorgement of all profits resulting from the scheme, as well as damages and costs. Amazon is represented by Davis Wright Tremaine.