A lawsuit filed this week by Apple alleges that 90 percent of the iPhone devices and Apple accessories that it bought through the e-commerce giant were fake. Apple said it took the steps to buy more than 100 power cords, Lightning cables and iPhone devices on Amazon through its “ongoing brand protection efforts.”
The results were disclosed as part of a lawsuit targeting a company called Mobile Star LLC, which Apple alleges is selling counterfeit power products. Apple claims the fake products pose dangers to consumers because they aren’t put through “industry-standard consumer safety testing and are poorly constructed with inferior or missing components, flawed design, and inadequate electrical insulation.” In other words, it’s not only that consumers are paying a premium for a fake product, but those products could catch fire or deliver an electrical shock.
“Apple is concerned that consumers are being deceived into purchasing counterfeit products on Amazon.com and elsewhere in the mistaken belief that they are purchasing genuine Apple products,” the lawsuit claims. “In addition to Apple’s significant safety concerns for its consumers, these products, which are consistently poorly constructed, are unlikely to function as well as genuine Apple products.”
Apple says that it bought the items directly from Amazon, and not a third-party merchant. Amazon.com didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
“Amazon.com informed Apple that Mobile Star was its source for the majority of these counterfeit Apple products. Amazon.com turned over to Apple additional inventory of Apple power products that Amazon.com had purchased from Mobile Star, and Apple determined that the vast majority of these products were counterfeit as well,” the lawsuit alleges.
Counterfeit electronics has become a growing problem, and not only for consumers. Businesses as well as consumers are losing about $250 billion each year on fake electronic parts, according to IndustryWeek. It’s become a large enough problem that the Department of Defense is now allowing contractors to recover the cost of a counterfeit product if they become aware of the problem within 60 days of purchase. Fake electronics have led to failures in military equipment, while a fake ball bearing in a swimming pump caused a house-destroying fire, according to Bloomberg News.
Apple is asking a court to ban Mobile Star from infringing on its trademarks and copyrights, as well as the destruction of the fake products and unspecified damages.