Amazon & Valentino Are Joining Forces to Sue This Shoe Brand

Amazon and Valentino are teaming up against an alleged counterfeiter of Valentino’s Rockstud pump.

The Seattle-based e-tailer and Italian luxury label today announced that they have filed a joint lawsuit against Buffalo, N.Y.-based Kaitlyn Pan Group, LLC. Amazon and Valentino claim that Kaitlyn Pan copied the Rockstud pump and offered the style for sale both on Amazon.com and on its own website. Amazon said it shut down Kaitlyn Pan’s seller account in September 2019 but claims that the brand continues to sell counterfeits on its own site — despite receiving multiple notices of infringement as well as a cease and desist order. In addition, Amazon and Valentino claim Kaitlyn Pan attempted to apply for a U.S. trademark on the allegedly infringing style, “flagrantly and willfully disregarding Valentino’s intellectual property.”

This marks the first litigation filed by Amazon jointly with a luxury fashion label, as well as Valentino’s first time filing a suit in conjunction with an online retailer. Similar to past joint litigation filed by Amazon, Valentino will receive any proceeds from the suit.

“The vast majority of sellers in our store are honest entrepreneurs but we do not hesitate to take aggressive action to protect customers, brands, and our store from counterfeiters. Amazon and Valentino are holding this company accountable in a court of law and we appreciate Valentino’s collaboration throughout this investigation,” Amazon VP of customer trust and partner support Dharmesh Mehta said in a statement.

In 2019 alone, Amazon said it invested more than $500 million into protecting its stores from fraud and abuse, with over 8,000 employees working to crack down on counterfeits. The retailer says 99.9% of products viewed by consumers on its site have not received a valid counterfeit complaint, and that it reports all confirmed counterfeits to relevant authorities.

Although Amazon says it has invested in cracking down on counterfeits, the retailer has in the past been criticized American Apparel and Footwear Association as well as by fashion brands for its purportedly lax policing of third-party listings, which can result in fraudulent listings. Citing a variety of reasons, including counterfeits and lack of brand control, several major shoe players have decided to cut ties with Amazon in recent years.

For instance, Birkenstock Americas CEO David Kahan has been vocal for years about the brand’s problems with Amazon. After Birkenstock severed ties with Amazon in 2016, Kahan argued that its open marketplace fosters an environment of “unacceptable business practices,” such as counterfeit products and unauthorized sellers that show “a blatant disregard for our pricing policies.” Meanwhile, Nike announced in November that it had ended its two-year pilot program with Nike, citing a desire to focus on “elevating consumer experiences through more direct, personal relationships.” Vibram also made the decision to stop selling on Amazon in 2019.

At the same time, Amazon has taken steps in recent years aimed at beefing up its fashion business. In addition to introducing its own in-house labels, such as The Fix, the e-tailer introduced Prime Wardrobe in 2018, a service that allows customers to try items on before committing to their purchases, and it launched launched Personal Shopper, an outfit-in-a-box service similar to Stitch Fix and Nordstrom’s Trunk Club, in August 2019. What’s more, Amazon in March 2020 debuted “Making the Cut,” a fashion competition show with winning looks instantly available to shop online.

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