Skip to main content
Copyright Blog

Academic Publishers Combat Textbook Counterfeiting

Publishers File Claim against Unidentified Defendants for Selling Textbooks Online

Academic publishers Pearson, McGraw-Hill, Cengage, Bedford, and Elsevier (jointly the "Plaintiffs" or "Publishers") filed a complaint against ten unidentified defendants, their relative trade names, and nine other named defendants (jointly the "Defendants"). The Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants violated federal copyright and trademark laws by “intentionally, advertising, selling, and distributing counterfeit textbooks at the expense of authors, students, publishers, and others.”

According to the complaint, the counterfeit textbooks are printed overseas and then imported into the United States and sold on various online marketplaces including eBay and Amazon. The allegedly counterfeit books are generally of inferior quality to legitimate books, which the Plaintiffs claim damage their reputations as customers unknowingly receive low-quality counterfeits. The Defendants allegedly undercut market prices by offering “brand new” books at a “too good to be true” price.

The Plaintiffs allege the Defendants use various tactics to "evade discovery" and continue with the alleged infringement. According to the Publishers, the infringing activities are typically conducted behind closed doors, which has made the discovery of such activities challenging and time-consuming. The Plaintiffs claim that customers generally do not receive information about the seller of the books, as the Defendants fulfill their orders by working through third parties, so identifying the alleged counterfeiters is a complex process.

The Publishers claim to have sent some of the Defendants notices of infringement. However, the Publishers assert that even after sending the notices, the Defendants have not ceased selling counterfeit books. The Plaintiffs allege that the infringement started in approximately April 2017 and has continued to the present. The Publishers assert that the Defendants have infringed their exclusive distribution right, and that the infringement is willful.

The Publishers are asking the court for an order requiring the Defendants to deliver up all counterfeit products, pay for damages sustained as a result of the allegedly unlawful actions, and cease from further infringement.