}

Monday, January 22, 2018

BLUE MARBLE ROLLS DOWNHILL...AND ENDS UP IN FEDERAL COURT San Francisco-Based Blue Marble Products, LLC Accused Of Selling Counterfeit Chinese Metal Detectors On “patiobloom.com”; Blue Marble's Expanding Network Of 90+ Ecommerce Sites Draws Numerous Consumer Complaints While Battling Patent Infringement, Unjust Enrichment Allegations In Federal Court


IS SAN FRANCISCO'S BLUE MARBLE PRODUCTS, LLC THE UGLY UNDERSIDE OF SILICON VALLEY?
Above: Blue Marble Products, LLC ecommerce logos

In a motion to dismiss, filed on July 12, 2017, attorneys for ORCHARDDEPOT.COM asserted the following: 

“Defendants operate an internet service provider (ISP) website ORCHARDDEPOT.COM, which is a third-party retailer that enables consumers’ convenient search and purchase of gardening products from legitimate source websites (hereinafter “source websites”). Defendants do not manufacture, produce, own or store any products that are listed on ORCHARDDEPOT.COM. 

Instead, Defendants, only after receiving a client’s purchase order related to a product, would purchase the product from the original seller on the source websites and ship the product to the customer.” 

However, the site not a one-off, rather it is part of a massive network of nearly 100 sites launched by its parent company, San Francisco, California-based Blue Marble Products, LLC.

FROM CRYPTOCURRENCY TO A CHINESE COUNTERFEIT CONSPIRACY: A Tech Company's Dirty Little Secrets

Imagine Martin Scorsese had started his film career as a pornographer and kept on making skin flicks even after he released “Taxi Driver”. 

Now change the location from New York City’s Little Italy to San Francisco’s Mission District and you’ll discover a timely (and as yet untold) story: a massive e-commerce scheme supporting a Bay Area tech honcho with a devil on one shoulder—and an angel investor on the other. 

My exclusive investigation reveals San Francisco-based Blue Marble Products, LLC currently operates at least 90 ecommerce sites that scrape data (product pictures, listing information, etc.) from Amazon, Amazon Handmade, Etsy and AliExpress. 

The items are then illegally listed on the company's various sites, frequently with grossly inflated prices. 

However, all of Blue Marble’s sites (operating on the Shopify platform), like “bedbathdeluxe.com”, mislead shoppers by fraudulently proclaiming to provide them “with the best price” available: 

“We are so happy you stopped by our store, let us tell you a bit about ourselves. Bed Bath Deluxe is dedicated to providing our customers with the best price in bed and bath items. As an industry leader we are able to get the best wholesale prices and pass those savings onto our customers.” 

And one more thing—Blue Marble doesn’t actually have any of the products it lists for sale. 

And how do I know that? 

An attorney for the company blew its own whistle in that federal case I quoted at the beginning of this report:
“Defendants do not manufacture, produce, own or store any products that are listed on ORCHARDDEPOT.COM. Instead, Defendants, only after receiving a client’s purchase order related to a product, would purchase the product from the original seller on the source websites and ship the product to the customer.” 

Until today, the size of this scheme was like an iceberg, most of it below the surface.

Not any more.

Blue Marble Products, LLC, is a California business entity originally formed as Infuse Solutions, LLC on February 23, 2015 by Peter Franklin. 

On February 21, 2017 Franklin changed the company's name to Blue Marble Products, LLC.

An earlier iteration of Blue Marble Products, LLC (Blue Marble Products) was formed on September 14, 2015 as an Alameda County d/b/a by Casey Donahue, who currently works for Peter Franklin at his full-stack development/design agency, Infuse, in San Francisco. 

Peter Franklin is also the CEO/founder of Pryze, Inc., backed by Silicon Valley angel investor Gil Penchina. 

Pryze released a white paper in early November 2017, and its PRYZ cryptocurrency token sale (“initial coin offering”) opens today (January 22, 2018) at 6:00pm EST. 

Cryptocurrency offerings are, in theory, not available to residents in the US. Only accredited investors can participate in private placements of securities. While some would define all cryptocurrency ICOs as tokens and not securities, SEC regulators have a very different opinion regarding this matter. 

Recent ICOs can be labeled as traditional sales of equity, and have drawn SEC scrutiny. 

One billion PRYZ tokens will be created, with 40 percent of tokens allocated for the sale. Within that 40 percent, 10 percent have already been allocated “for founders use”, with 10 percent allocated for the “Company’s advisors use”.

But back to Peter Franklin's Blue Marble Products: three sites (orcharddepot.com, truehomebliss.com and patiobloom.com) have been sued within the last six months for allegations ranging from patent infringement, unjust enrichment, conspiracy to import and sell counterfeit metal detectors. 

CamCal Enterprises, LLC v. Blue Marble Products, LLC; California Central District 

First Texas Products, L.L.C. v. Shanghai Tianxun Electronic; Western District Texas 

International Fruit Genetics, LLC et al v. Orcharddepot.com; California Northern District 

The CamCal case (re: truehomebliss.com) settled on December 29, 2017. 

In addition, Blue Marble Product sites have drawn BBB complaints, alleging undelivered or damaged products; suspicious post-purchase credit card activity; lack of customer service contact. 

In addition, at least 38 “virtual mailbox” locations, including storefront mailing offices in the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California, serve as ostensible locations for the various sites—making it nearly impossible for the average consumer to follow their money.

TRUEHOMEBLISS.COM...Not So Blissful! 

On July 19, 2017, Arizona-based CamCal Enterprises, LLC (doing business as “Bottle Keeper”) filed a patent infringement complaint in U. S. District Court in the Central California District against Blue Marble’s “truehomebliss.com”, alleging patent infringement and seeking unspecified damages. 

In its complaint, Bottle Keeper asserted “truehomebliss.com” had “engaged, and continues to engage, in the business of manufacturing, using, importing, offering for sale, and/or selling bottle enclosures embodying one or more of the patented inventions disclosed and claimed in the '527 patent ("the '527 Patent Infringing Products"). Upon information and belief, the '527 Patent Infringing Products include, without limitation, Defendant's “Outag Bottle Insulator.” 

Bottle Keeper asserted the “continuing infringement has inflicted and, unless restrained by this Court, will continue to inflict great and irreparable harm upon BottleKeeper. 

BottleKeeper has no adequate remedy at law, and is entitled to preliminary and permanent injunctions enjoining Defendant from engaging in further acts of infringement.” 

Blue Marble ultimately chose not to defend its actions, and the dispute was settled out of court on December 28, 2017. 

In the Consent Judgment, Blue Marble admitted infringing on Bottle Keeper’s patent, and agreed not to contest the “validity of the patent action”. 

The offending site, “truehomebliss.com”, was subsequently taken offline—although only temporarily, it appears. 

As you can see in the screen grab below (taken this morning), like Mariah Carey, “truehomebliss.com” may be on the comeback trail. 


Tomorrow, the second installment in this exclusive investigation (including a comprehensive list of those 90+ sites), only from Glistening, Quivering Underbelly! 

(NOTE: Amazon, through its Media Relations office, declined to comment for this story, and an attorney representing Blue Marble Products, LLC did not respond to my request for comment and clarification.)

2 comments:

  1. Wow sounds like a real scam! People need to do their research before buying online.I wonder how many other sites these people are scamming on?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The list of 90 sites traced to Blue Marble Products, LLC via each site's "Terms of Service" is available at this link: http://glisteningquiveringunderbelly.blogspot.com/2018/01/eyes-on-pryz-cryptocurrency-promoter.html

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