Itsissen /
22 May 2024NewsTrademarksLiz Hockley

BBC sues over fake Bluey goods sold on Amazon, Walmart, Etsy

Complaint filed in Illinois targets unidentified online sellers offering fake Bluey products | The BBC says counterfeiters have multiple store fronts and aliases to evade detection.

The BBC has filed a lawsuit in Illinois to combat what it describes as a clandestine online operation to sell counterfeit products purportedly from popular children’s TV show Bluey.

Yesterday’s (May 21) court filing at the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois targets a number of ‘partnerships and unincorporated associations’, which the BBC says operate under “seller aliases” to conceal their identities.

The BBC told the court a number of e-commerce store operators were trading upon its good reputation and goodwill by selling unauthorised Bluey products.

Bluey, which was created by Australian animator and writer Joe Brumm and first aired in 2018, has enjoyed global success and won numerous awards.

Under an agreement with Ludo Studios, the BBC has a full and exclusive licence to use, enforce and sublicense Ludo’s trademarks including registered Bluey marks and copyright works, according to the complaint.

The BBC said the programme’s widespread fame and outstanding reputation had made the Bluey trademarks “invaluable assets”, with millions of dollars invested in advertising, promoting and marketing them.

Tactics to evade detection

BBC Studios, a wholly owned subsidiary of the BBC, told the court that in recent years it had identified many e-commerce stores offering unauthorised Bluey products on online marketplaces including Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, Etsy, Walmart and Temu.

Tactics used by the defendants to conceal their identities and the full scope of their operation made it “virtually impossible” to learn their true identities, the BBC said.

It claimed that third-party service providers like those used by the defendants did not adequately subject new sellers to verification and confirmation of their identities.

Further, counterfeiters hedge against the risk of being caught and having their websites taken down from an e-commerce platform by preemptively establishing multiple virtual store-fronts, the BBC said, and could have many different profiles that might appear unrelated even though they are commonly owned and operated.

The BBC said that e-commerce stores operating under the seller aliases had “notable common features”, such as the same registration pattern, keywords, the same incorrect grammar and misspellings, and/or the use of the same text or images.

“Additionally, unauthorised Bluey products for sale by the seller aliases bear similar irregularities and indicia of being unauthorised to one another,” the BBC told the court, suggesting that the products came from a common source and that the defendants were interrelated.

The BBC has taken action to protect its Bluey IP before, with another lawsuit filed against unnamed counterfeiters in Illinois in March this year, and a suit in June 2023.

In BBC Studios Distribution v The Partnerships and Unincorporated Associations Identified on Schedule ‘A’, The BBC is represented by Greer, Burns & Crain, with a team of Amy Ziegler, Justin Gaudio, Rachel Miller and Jennifer Nacht.

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