That’s how much a Florida woman was surprised to find out she owes country superstar Luke Combs after he filed a lawsuit against the woman’s Amazon store.
Nicol Harness, of Pinellas, Florida, suffers from congestive heart failure and supports herself by selling custom tumblers and t-shirts on Amazon. And after attending a Luke Combs concert this summer, she decided to make some tumblers with his stickers on them and sell them in her store.
She says she ultimately made less than $400 from the custom merch, selling 18 tumblers for $20 each. But after a recent hospital stay, she was surprised to find out that she couldn’t access her Amazon storefront – because she had been sued by the country music superstar, and the judge had ruled against her before she even knew about the lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Illinois, one of several that Combs has filed against vendors selling counterfeit merchandise.
In the complaint, a copy of which was obtained by Whiskey Riff, Combs alleges that the infringing merchandise causes him irreparable harm, deceiving customers by using his trademark without authorization. While we weren’t able to see the full list of those who were named in the lawsuit, it appears to target many counterfeiters in China who run large networks selling unauthorized merchandise.
But according to Harness, she was served with the lawsuit via an email, which she says went to her junk folder – and she didn’t know about it until she was trying to figure out why she couldn’t get into her Amazon account. (A lot of jurisdictions require complaints to be served in person, but Illinois allows service electronically).
And to make matters worse, the attorney for Combs requested a default judgment after the Florida woman (and the other defendants in the case) failed to respond to the lawsuit.
The judge then entered an order prohibiting Harness and the others from selling any merchandise with Combs’ trademark, and ordering them each to pay $250,000 in damages to Combs.
But Harness told WFLA that her only income is from selling items through Amazon – and she definitely doesn’t have a quarter of a million dollars to pay Combs for the $380 in tumblers that she sold:
“It’s very stressful. I don’t have money to pay my bills. I just want this resolved. I didn’t mean any harm to Luke Combs. I quit selling the tumbler. I pulled it down. I just don’t understand.”
And now, the Luke Combs fan is just trying to figure out what to do next:
“I would tell him I’m sorry, like I said I didn’t mean any harm. I’m a supporter of Luke Combs. I respect him. This is not something I meant to go wrong like this. I just want to get back to my day to day life.”
It’s a brutal situation, and I highly doubt that Luke is personally aware of the lawsuit against Harness, or her story.
And intellectual property violations can obviously be very costly – something that Harness unfortunately found out the hard way.
"I'm a supporter of Luke Combs…This is not something I meant to go wrong like this."