Retail

Amazon Steps Up Counterfeit Crackdown

Amazon

Amazon is continuing its aggressive crackdown on counterfeit goods. On Tuesday (Aug. 11) it announced the expansion of its anti-counterfeit initiative, Project Zero, to seven new countries — Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Turkey and the UAE. The project is now operative in all 17 countries where Amazon does business. The project aims for the goal of eliminating counterfeit goods using Amazon proprietary technology with machine learning and cooperation with the brands that have been victimized by the practice.

“Amazon is committed to protecting our customers and the brands we collaborate with worldwide,” said Amazon Vice President of Worldwide Customer Trust and Partner Support Dharmesh Mehta. “Project Zero has been a leap forward in protecting brands, especially for those that use all three of its components.”

Those three components are Amazon’s machine learning-based automated protections that scan more than 5 billion attempted daily product listing updates to automatically prevent and block potential counterfeits; a self-service tool to empower brands to directly remove listings from Amazon’s marketplace and product serialization, which features a unique code that brands apply within their packaging process to confirm authenticity of products.

More than 10,000 brands — including Arduino, BMW, ChessCentral, LifeProof, OtterBox, Salvatore Ferragamo and Veet — have already enrolled in Project Zero, which was launched in 2019. “We are excited to see that Project Zero is expanding into the new marketplaces,” said Adrienne McNicholas, co-founder and CEO of Food Huggers. “The program has already had a very positive impact on our enforcement efforts and we are glad to see Amazon’s continued commitment to protecting our brand across the world.”

Amazon has been aggressive about cracking down on counterfeits during the pandemic. Most recently, it launched the Amazon Counterfeit Crime Unit (ACCU), a global team that investigates and bring legal action against companies and individuals trading in the grey market, as the counterfeit trade is called. It also recently launched the Amazon IP Accelerator to help businesses obtain intellectual property (IP) rights and brand protection in Amazon’s stores. The program was designed specifically with small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that are looking to secure intellectual property in the U.S.

The U.S. government is also trying to take more aggressive action against the gray market. According to the National Law Journal, proposed bipartisan legislation before Congress would grant authority to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to seize goods that infringe U.S. design patents. CBP can currently confiscate products that infringe trademarks and copyrights, but has no authority in relation to design patents. According to the Journal, design patents have become a more significant tool for counterfeiters, with U.S. design patent grants growing steadily from roughly 20,000 annually in 2006 to nearly 35,000 in 2019.

“Counterfeit goods enter the U.S. every day, with the value of global trade in counterfeits estimated to reach nearly $2 trillion by 2022,” says the law journal. “As just one example, CBP announced in early July that it intercepted $5.5M in counterfeit sleepwear, including imitation Gucci products, at a seaport in California. Fake apparel, footwear, watches and jewelry, handbags and wallets, and consumer electronics are among the top items seized by CBP, according to a 2020 DHS report.”

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