Stanford Law School‘s Center for Internet and Society is not where I usually get content for my blog. But Larry Downs has written an interesting story about an experience with buying what could easily be characterized as a counterfeit camera battery on Amazon.com. The twist is that the vendor claims he didn’t brand the battery, it was another seller facilitated by Amazon.com itself. Here’s the explanation from an Amazon.com web page, as reported in the story:
The information displayed on an Amazon single detail page, called “reconciled” data, is drawn from multiple seller contributions. When a seller contributes product information to an existing item in our catalog, a decision is made about whether or not to display any changes to the product details on the single detail page. This decision is processed automatically according to business logic known as “Detail Page Control.” Detail Page Control determines which of the available product descriptions, features, titles, and additional details are displayed on the single detail page.
The selection is made based on which contributing seller has greater Detail Page Control as determined by our automated system. This could be Amazon or any seller offering the item. Detail Page Control rankings are not modified manually, but are regularly reviewed and updated automatically by our system. Some factors that affect Detail Page Control are a seller’s sales volume, refund rate, buyer feedback, and A-to-z Guarantee claims.
The original seller says he properly listed his battery as OEM, but that the above system changed it to a listing for an authentic battery.
Although the seller’s story seems sympathetic, Amazon hasn’t told its side yet. But it leads to interesting questions about liability, referential use by others, and overall control over your trademark and your brand in an automated world. It’s highly recommended reading for anyone who has goods sold in the electronic market.
Full story here.
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