On November 3, 2022, the United States District Court for the Central District of California (Honorable Stanley Blumenfeld, Jr.) issued an order granting summary judgment to LTL Attorneys’ client TP-Link, a distributor of networking products, in Thimes Solutions, Inc. v. TP-Link USA Corporation and Auction Brothers, Inc. d/b/a Amazzia. The Court dismissed all claims against TP-Link.
The case involves a persistent issue for companies working to maintain quality control for the protection of consumers—stemming the unauthorized sales of their products. Thimes was an unauthorized reseller of TP-Link products on Amazon. Purchasers associate the TP-LINK® Mark with genuine TP-Link products that convey all the benefits of a product purchased from an authorized reseller. Consumers who purchased TP-Link products from Thimes did not receive all the benefits of a product purchased from an authorized reseller.
Thimes was eventually expelled from the Amazon Marketplace in August 2018 and claimed such expulsion was the result of TP-Link’s intellectual property complaints to Amazon. Thimes sued to recover lost profits and punitive damages of over $20 million, asserting claims for trade libel, intentional interference with contract (Amazon Services Business Solutions Agreement), and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. In summary, the Court ruled that TP-Link’s intellectual property complaints against Thimes to Amazon contain “unactionable opinion statements” that were “made in the general context of an Amazon-hosted online form that invites complaints of commercial abuse.” Because TP-Link’s assertion of trademark infringement is not susceptible to being proved true or false, Thimes’ trade libel claim failed. Thimes also failed to prove special damages to support its trade libel claim.
As for Thimes’ tort claims, the Court found that Thimes had failed to assert an independently wrongful act warranting dismissal of both claims.
“Hopefully, this decision will provide companies further assistance to control product quality and protect consumers without fear of retaliatory litigation,” said Chennakesavan, a partner in the firm’s intellectual property and complex commercial litigation groups.