Get your gavels ready. Canon USA has filed a pair of lawsuits against a handful of online photography retailers in an attempt to halt the sales of grey market gear – equipment that is legal and often cheaper to purchase, but isn’t covered by Canon’s warranty.
Eric Reagan of Photography Bay was the first to report on the matter after obtaining copies of the complaints.
Inside the two documents, Canon USA claims grey market retailers are infringing on US trademark laws, stating that this should be reason enough for the federal court to intervene and stop the import and sale of Canon products under the grey market label.
Each of the two complaints references a different set of retailers.
Lawsuit one refers to both Get It Digital, LLC and All New Shop, LLC as defendants. According to Canon, these two companies are being run by a single entity, as the retailers use the same address for business purposes.
In lawsuit number two, Canon USA calls out F&E Trading, LLC, a parent company of multiple eBay retailers including Big Value, Inc., Electronics Valley, Electronics Basket, DavisMax, Net sales and Sixth Avenue.
Canon says the sale of grey market products negatively affects consumers through the spreading of counterfeit serial numbers, improper warranty coverage, photocopied instruction manuals, misleading packaging and including third party accessories that don’t comply with local regulations.
To back up their reasoning, Canon provided examples of these incidents. The first one shows a Canon 5D Mark III that was purchased new from All New Shop, LLC. According to Canon, the original serial number was stripped off and replace with a fake plate.
A second exhibit shows a Canon 5D Mark III purchased from Sixth Avenue. Not only did this camera have its original serial number removed, but the replacement plate was left blank.
Canon USA is not only asking the federal court to step in and halt the sale of grey market gear, but also seeking out all profits made by these companies, and the damages Canon USA has incurred as a result of the sale of unauthorised equipment. Add on the legal fees being incurred by Canon and these companies are facing lawsuits that could very easily get up into seven or eight digits.
What will also prove interesting going forward is the fact more established retailers such as B&H and Adorama also sell grey market equipment. Will Canon be going after them in the future?
It’s unlikely this legal battle will end anytime soon, but if Canon is to come out as the winner, it could very well mean the era of grey market camera equipment is gone.
Below are the two complaints acquired and uploaded to Scribd by Photography Bay.
Image credits: My Trusty Gavel by Brian Turner used under CC BY 2.0
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