Home furnishings and kitchenware store Williams-Sonoma has no grounds to sue Amazon over allegedly “misleading” search ads and email promotions for Williams-Sonoma products, Amazon argues in new court papers.
“Williams-Sonoma would like to be the only website that sells genuine Williams-Sonoma products. But the law doesn’t give it that power,” Amazon argues in papers filed Tuesday with U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth Laporte in San Francisco.
Amazon's argument comes in response to a lawsuit filed by Williams-Sonoma in December, when the company alleged that Amazon created an unauthorized store on its site, and used “misleading” search ads and emails to wrongly suggest it is an authorized Williams-Sonoma retailer. One Google search for the phrase “williams sonoma” returned with a headline that included the phrases “Williams & Sonoma at Amazon” and “Amazon Official Site,” according to the original complaint.
Williams-Sonoma also alleged that its president received an email from Amazon advertising a one-pound tin of Williams-Sonoma Peppermint Bark for $47.35, when the store sells the same product online for just $28.95.
Williams-Sonoma claims in its lawsuit that this activity by Amazon amounts to trademark infringement, confuses consumers, and hurts the company's reputation.
Amazon counters in its new court papers that people who purchase products are allowed to re-sell them, and that it's allowed to offer a platform for those sales and advertise the products. The company adds that the email offering Peppermint Bark truthfully states that “Williams-Sonoma products are available through Amazon’s website.”
Williams-Sonoma's lawsuit included separate allegations that Amazon's private label, “Rivet,” sells knockoffs of the furniture Williams-Sonoma offers under the “West Elm” brand. Amazon hasn't yet addressed those allegations.