Peak Design, a manufacturer of fine bags and accessories, has a problem: Amazon seems to have copied its popular bag, the $ 99.95 Everyday Sling, with its own $ 32.99 Amazon Basics camera bag. It was even called Everyday Sling until the Peak Design video. Rather than do something drastic, Peak Design decided to make a video about what customers “earn” by purchasing the Amazon version.
The video presents the Peak case clearly: the bags are similar in shape, with pockets, tags, and straps in exactly the same places. As someone unfamiliar with Peak Design bags, if you weren’t paying attention or didn’t read “Peak Design” on the label, you’d probably be confusing them.
Peak presents all of this with humor, but the evidence is surprisingly brazen, making Amazon’s apparent decision to change its version of Amazon Basics from “Everyday Sling” to “Amazon Basics Camera Bag” even more suspicious. There is even evidence: “Everyday Sling” is still in the URL of the “Camera Bag”.
Peak Design isn’t the first smaller company to try to take on Amazon. When Allbirds discovered that Amazon was selling what seemed like a fairly obvious clone of Allbirds, the company’s CEO wrote a Medium post criticizing Amazon, though he claimed he was “flattered” by the similarities between the shoes. The Amazon copy hasn’t stopped there. The company has also been accused of cloning trunk organizers and seat cushions.
The entire trend has only served to draw attention to a potential antitrust issue that has long troubled critics of the company, as well as lawmakers and regulators. The basic problem: Amazon owns and operates its e-commerce platform and also has a growing list of internal brands that compete with Amazon’s third-party Marketplace sellers on that same platform.
In theory, undercutting the competition is as simple as seeing what sells well, creating a similar and cheaper product, and then suggesting it to Amazon buyers. Indeed, that very situation is at the center of a European Union investigation into the company’s operations, which resulted in the European Commission accusing Amazon of “systematically” using seller data to compete unfairly with its own merchants. in France and Germany last November.
Amazon says it has a policy to prevent third-party seller data from being used for products, but reports from The Wall Street Journal suggests it still happened. What Vice notes, even former CEO Jeff Bezos could not confirm whether the policy had been broken during the House Judiciary Committee’s investigation into Amazon’s monopoly status.
In the case of Peak Design, the company said in a statement to The edge believes Amazon has indeed infringed on its intellectual property, but chose to make the video to highlight differences between the products and has no plans to take legal action now.
Reviews are currently disabled on the Amazon exchange because the company noticed “unusual review activity.” Looking at some of the more recent reviews, customers who directly reference the Peak Design video have left several of the lower ratings. Made with Amazon’s decision to change the product name, it appears that Peak Design has hit a wire.
The edge contacted Amazon about Peak Design’s claim and we will update you if we receive a response.