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ML Products sues V4INK for alleged online sales fraud

November 16, 2023

ML Products Inc. has initiated a major lawsuit against V4INK Inc. and associated entities, accusing them of deceptive online sales practices on Amazon, including fake reviews and algorithm manipulation. 

In a potential landmark case regarding the online retail world, ML Products Inc., a Los Angeles-based online printer ink and toner distributor, has initiated a legal battle against V4INK Inc., Relly Trading Inc., Garmy Trading Inc., and numerous unnamed defendants. The lawsuit in the Central District of California alleges a complex web of unfair competition and deceptive practices on the Amazon.com platform, potentially reshaping how third-party sellers operate online.

The complaint, filed by ML Products, accuses the defendants of employing various deceptive tactics to dominate Amazon’s ink and toner market, alleging losses of millions in sales. These tactics include commissioning fake product reviews, incentivising customers to modify or remove negative reviews, manipulating sales rankings through fake orders, and employing “ghost” accounts to falsify product interest.

A central allegation in the case is the manipulation of Amazon’s search algorithm. The defendants reportedly used multiple seller accounts and shell companies to list identical products under various brand names, crowding out competitors and misleading consumers into believing they were choosing between different products. This practice violated Amazon’s rules and allegedly constituted false advertising under the Lanham Act.

Further deepening the intrigue, the complaint details how V4INK, despite its supposed dissolution, continues to operate through a tangled network of businesses, including Relly and Garmy, effectively controlling a significant portion of the third-party ink and toner market on Amazon.

The case is particularly significant given the size of the ink and toner market on Amazon, estimated at over $350 million annually. ML Products argues that such deceptive practices harm honest competitors and mislead millions of consumers, eroding trust in the online marketplace.

Our take on this: It is for lawyers to argue and judges to judge so that this case will wind its way through the courts. But you do have to ask why the complaint wasn’t directed at Amazon in the first instance. If it was, what did or didn’t Amazon do to resolve this? And why isn’t Amazon included in the complaint if they did nothing?

Note: The information in this article is based on a legal complaint and has not been independently verified. The allegations mentioned are yet to be proven in court.

Tags: ML Products, V4INK, Relly Trading, Garmy Trading, USA, Legal

Categories : World Focus

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