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Amazon.Com, Inc. v. Arobo Trade, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

August 9, 2017

AMAZON.COM, INC., Petitioner,
v.
AROBO TRADE, INC., Respondent.

          ORDER

          JAMES L. ROBART, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the court is Petitioner Amazon.com, Inc.'s petition to confirm an arbitration award pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), 9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq. (Pet. (Dkt. # 1).) Respondent Arobo Trade, Inc., failed to respond to the petition. (See Dkt.) The court has considered Amazon's petition, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. Considering itself fully advised, the court GRANTS Amazon's petition and CONFIRMS the arbitrator's award.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Arobo operates an electronic storefront and sells primarily electronic goods through Amazon's platform. (Pet. ¶ 6.) In August 2014, Arobo agreed to be bound by the Amazon Services Business Solutions Agreement (“the Agreement”). (Pet. ¶ 10; Wagner Decl. (Dkt. # 2) ¶ 3, Ex. 1 (“Agreement”).) In assenting to the Agreement, Arobo submitted to mandatory, binding arbitration. (Agreement ¶ 18.)

         Subsequently, Amazon discovered that Arobo had “engaged in an extensive and concerted effort to mislead Amazon's customers” by posting fake and paid customer reviews for Arobo's products. (Pet. ¶ 20.) Arobo is aware that these abusive reviews violate the policies that apply to Amazon's sellers. (Id. ¶ 21.) On April 22, 2016, Amazon warned Arobo to discontinue these abusive practices, but Arobo continued. (Id. ¶ 20.) Accordingly, on October 25, 2016, Amazon initiated an arbitration proceeding by filing a demand with the American Arbitration Association. (Id. ¶ 22.)

         Amazon calculated that between October 25, 2015, and October 25, 2016, Arobo generated total sales of $531, 773.24 “on products linked to abusive reviews.” (Id. ¶ 21.) In arbitration, Amazon sought $531, 773.24 in damages under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1117(a); $7, 500.00 in attorney's fees under the Lanham Act and Washington's Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”), RCW ch. 19.86; and $14, 825.00 in costs under the CPA (Pet. ¶ 24). Amazon also sought an injunction to end Arobo's abusive review practices. (Id. ¶ 25.) Arobo failed to respond or appear at the arbitration hearing. (Id.)

         The Honorable George A. Finkle, the appointed arbitrator (Wagner Decl. ¶ 4, Ex. 2), held the arbitration hearing on April 26 and 27, 2017 (Pet. ¶ 24). After the hearing, he awarded Amazon the injunctive and monetary relief that Amazon sought. (Wagner Decl. ¶ 5, Ex. 3 (“Award”) at 5.) Specifically, he concluded that Amazon proved $531, 773.24 in revenue from the abusive reviews and that Arobo failed to prove any associated costs or deductions. (Award at 3-4); see 15 U.S.C. § 1117(a) (“In assessing profits the plaintiff shall be required to prove defendant's sales only; defendant must prove all elements of cost or deduction claimed.”). He also concluded that Amazon had proven a CPA violation and awarded $7, 500.00 in attorney's fees and $14, 825.00 in costs. (Award at 4-5; see Wagner Decl. ¶ 6, Ex. 4 (demonstrating $14, 825.00 in costs incurred by Amazon)); see also RCW 19.86.090 (providing for attorney's fees and costs to a prevailing CPA plaintiff). Finally, Judge Finkle issued the following injunctive relief:

Arobo Trade, Inc., and its officers, agents, representatives, servants, employees, attorneys, successors and assigns, and all others in active concert or participation with Arobo Trade, Inc., are enjoined from a) selling products on any of Amazon's websites; b) opening any Amazon account; c) accessing Amazon's services in any manner whatsoever; and d) assisting, aiding or abetting any other person or business entity in engaging or performing any of the activities referred to in subparagraphs a) - c) of this paragraph.

(Award at 5.) The award has not been subsequently vacated or modified. (Pet. ¶ 14.)

         Pursuant to the FAA, Amazon now petitions to reduce Judge Finkle's arbitration award to judgment. See 9 U.S.C. § 9. After several failed attempts at serving Arobo's registered agent (Cert. of Serv. (Dkt. # 5) at 5-7), a process server served Arobo with the petition and related filings on May 26, 2017 (id. at 4). Arobo failed to respond to Amazon's petition, which is now before the court. (See generally Dkt.; Pet.)

         III. ANALYSIS

         The FAA allows the prevailing party in certain arbitration proceedings to apply to a federal district court to reduce the arbitration award to judgment. 9 U.S.C. § 9. The prevailing party must seek such relief “within one year after the [arbitration] award is made.” Id. Where the parties' agreement does not specify the appropriate court, “then such application may be made to the United States court in and for the district within which such award was made.” Id. Upon service of the application to the adverse party, the federal court may assume personal jurisdiction over that party. Id. If the adverse party is a nonresident of the district within which the award was made, however, “then the notice of the application shall be served by the marshal of any district within which the adverse party may be found in like manner as other process of the court.” Id.

         Judge Finkle issued the arbitration award in Seattle less than one year before Amazon filed its petition. (See Award at 1; Pet. at 1.) Amazon has therefore complied with the FAA's venue and time limitations. See 9 U.S.C. § 9. In addition, the award has not been vacated or amended. (Pet. ¶ 14); see 9 U.S.C. § 9 (excluding from judicial enforcement arbitrator's awards that are subsequently “vacated, modified, or corrected as prescribed in sections 10 and 11 of this title”); see also Id. §§ 10-11.) Because Arobo is a nonresident of this district (Pet. ¶ 8), the FAA's final applicable requirement is that ...


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