Amazon apologises to fishmonger for demanding he drops 'prime day' adverts

4 July 2021, 17:01 | Updated: 4 July 2021, 17:02

Amazon apologised to fishmonger Robin Moxon over his advertising
Amazon apologised to fishmonger Robin Moxon over his advertising. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Amazon has apologised to a London fishmonger for demanding he drops "prime day" boat fish adverts from his chain of stores.

Robin Moxon - who runs four shops and a fish smokery in the capital - could not believe his eyes when he saw an email in his inbox from lawyers on behalf of the online retail giant.

Within the correspondence, the fishmonger was asked to remove references to "prime day" boat fish from his website so that shoppers would not mistake it for an Amazon offer.

After receiving the demand, Mr Moxon called the solicitors at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius - a legal practice that works with the US-based multinational company - and explained the term had been used by fish sellers for "hundreds of years".

Amazon has registered "Prime Day" as a trademark, which the firm uses as a slogan for its annual two-day event of deals and offers for Prime members.

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A spokesman for Amazon said the email was sent to the fishmonger in error
A spokesman for Amazon said the email was sent to the fishmonger in error. Picture: PA

However, the high street retailer said "prime day" catch was a "nice, neat little phrase" fishmongers have long used to advertise their stock.

The Wandsworth resident explained that it quickly and easily sums up their top-quality seafood, such as brill, Dover sole and turbot, that has been bought from trawlers that fish sustainably for no longer than a day at a time.

Despite Amazon backing down, Mr Moxon branded the company's behaviour "heavy-handed" and said "prime day" had been used by his fellow fishmongers long before billionaire boss Jeff Bezos "was a glint in his mother's eye".

"I basically said to them, 'Are you taking the p***?'," he said about his conversation with the retailer's representatives.

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"This phrase has been used by many people probably for hundreds of years, and I've been using it regularly for 30 years.

"This phrase was being well used probably before Amazon existed in this country and before Jeff Bezos was a glint in his mother's eye.

"I have used it and always will use it, and I don't see how it can affect their business. It was heavy-handed and offensive."

According to an email seen by the Press Association, Amazon's lawyers wrote to Moxon's Fishmongers on 21 June - the beginning of its Prime Day sales - expressing "concern" that consumers were "very likely to think that a 'Prime Day' sale event/advertisement coinciding with Amazon's Prime Day is offered in association with Amazon when it is not".

The solicitors said: "Amazon appreciates your enthusiasm for its 'Prime Day'; however, they want to make sure the 'Prime Day' trademarks aren't used in this way or by other brands.

"If we can get the references to 'Prime Day' on your website, and anywhere else on your social media accounts where it may exist, pulled and your assurances on the above, we can consider this matter closed."

Following a telephone call with Mr Moxon, the firm followed up with a second email later that day apologising "for any inconvenience" after "clarifying the root of the term 'prime day boat' in the context of the fishing industry".

A spokesman for Amazon said: "This email was sent in error and we apologise for any inconvenience caused."

The legal practice also issued an apology.