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Amazon.com Inc. Oct. 10 escaped U.S. Supreme Court review of an appeals court ruling that it can’t be held liable for allegedly infringing animal-shaped pillowcases sold by third-party merchants on its platform ( Milo & Gabby LLC v. Amazon.com Inc., No. 17-287, cert. petition denied 10/10/17 ).
The high court denied a petition from pillowcase maker Milo & Gabby LLC to review a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that Amazon can’t be held liable for the alleged knockoffs because it didn’t actually sell or offer to sell them.
The court declined the opportunity to weigh in on the sale of infringing goods in online marketplaces and the responsibilities of platforms in combating them.
Milo & Gabby alleged that Amazon violated federal copyright and patent law because knockoff versions of Milo & Gabby’s pillowcases appeared in the e-commerce giant’s online marketplace. The Federal Circuit ruled that Amazon didn’t hold title to the pillowcases and therefore couldn’t sell them within the meaning of copyright law. The court rejected Milo & Gabby’s patent claim on procedural grounds.
Philip P. Mann, counsel for Milo & Gabby and an intellectual property attorney at Mann Law Group in Washington state, told Bloomberg BNA in an email that although this particular case is now closed, the underlying issue remains. “The courts have so far protected the interests of foreign suppliers of admitted knock-off goods over those of American citizens simply trying to run responsible businesses,” Mann said. Eventually “the courts and/or Congress will be forced to confront the issue directly.”
An Amazon spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a Bloomberg BNA request for comment.
To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Kramer in Washington at aKramer@bna.com
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