Amazon launches new tools for brands to proactively fight counterfeiting – TechCrunch


Amazon This morning, we announced a new initiative to reduce counterfeiting on our site, called Project Zero – a name that refers to Amazon's noble goal of reducing counterfeit sales to zero. The program will leverage Amazon's technology, including machine learning capabilities, coupled with the brand's intellectual property knowledge to automatically and continuously scan the Amazon store to identify and eliminate in a timely manner. proactive violations, among others.

Brands wishing to use the new tools will provide Amazon with their logos, trademarks and other key branding data. Amazon will then analyze its 5 billion updates of product lists a day, looking for alleged counterfeits, he says.

The idea here is to put more technology behind the search for fakes, in order to become more proactive than reactive. In the past, brands had to file a counterfeit report with Amazon in order to take action. The new tools allow brands to directly remove and control Amazon store ads without having to contact Amazon in advance.

Another optional service involved in Project Zero's larger program is the serialization of the product.

This service will allow Amazon to scan to confirm the authenticity of each of the brand's products purchased on the site. It provides a unique code for each manufactured unit, which is put on the products during the manufacturing process. When the product is ordered later, Amazon scans this code to verify that the purchase is genuine. If it does not, Amazon can detect and stop a counterfeit item before it reaches the customer.

Although registration at Project Zero is itself free, brands using the product serialization service will cost between $ 0.01 and $ 0.05 per unit, depending on the volume, Amazon notes.

Counterfeiting has become a serious problem on Amazon, largely because of the size and scale of Amazon's third-party market, which it regulates little. Some of these items are never even touched by Amazon, but are sold and shipped by the third party vendor themselves. Others are only populated by Amazon, but this does not include a verification process.

These will however carry the label "Fulfilled by Amazon", which some consumers misunderstand, which means they are trustworthy, because Amazon is somehow involved.

According to a study by defense group The Counterfeit Report last year, there have been about 58,000 counterfeit products on Amazon since May 2016, Engadget reported. But the total number of counterfeits is much higher, because TCR represented only the brands it represents.

Amazon has been repeatedly called by brands to be effectively "complicit" in the counterfeiting industry, always putting issues aside because they involved third party vendors, not Amazon's own store.

This has also allowed Amazon to escape from many legal problems related to counterfeiting in court, even though it is still being prosecuted. For example, Daimler AG sued Amazon in 2016 for taking advantage of sales of wheels contrary to its patents. The same year, a family sued Amazon when a counterfeit hoverboard burned their home.

Apple has also sued Mobile Star LLC for manufacturing counterfeit Apple chargers, which it has tried to pass off as authentic on Amazon, which has brought the name of the retailer to the news.

More recently, Amazon has been inserted in legal battles. Last year, she sued three lawsuits in partnership with fashion designer Vera Bradley and maker of Otterbox mobile accessories, for counterfeit products.

Counterfeiting not only harms consumers and brands, it also has a direct impact on Amazon's business, especially in the growing fashion category.

Many fashion brands do not work with the Amazonian period. Birkenstock, for example, decided to no longer do business with Amazon. LVMH (Celine, Dior, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton and others) said last year that Amazon's trade "does not match" its brands and that Swatch has waived a sales contract on Amazon in 2017 when the retailer refused to put in place proactive protections against counterfeiters.

Despite all these problems, recent US government pressure may have helped reverse the trend of forcing Amazon and other players in the industry to take counterfeiting more seriously.

Last year, federal investigators purchased counterfeit products from the largest and best known e-commerce sites, including Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Newegg and Sears Marketplace. Of the 47 products, 20 were counterfeit products – including Urban Decay cosmetics, Yeti cups, Nike Air Jordan shoes, phone chargers, etc.

E-commerce companies have, of course, rightly condemned counterfeiting and are committed to working with policymakers to find solutions.

Amazon states that its new Project Zero tools have been tested by several brands before today's launch, including Vera Bradley mentioned above; Thunderworks, manufacturer of anti anxiety products in the pet; the manufacturer of mobile accessories Kenu; and manufacturer of lint remover, Chom Chom Roller. During the testing period, Amazon claims to have been able to proactively stop 100 times more alleged counterfeit products, compared to what it reactively eliminates based on brand reports.

"Project Zero, with its automated protections and self-service withdrawal of counterfeit products, is an important development that will allow our customers to receive genuine Vera Bradley products from Amazon," said Mark Dely, Legal and Administrator Manager. from Vera Bradley.

"Amazon's product serialization service has changed the game for us. We are excited to have this self-service counterfeit removal tool for the US market and consider that it's an insurance policy, "said Ken Minn. General Manager, Kenu.

Project Zero places great trust in the brands submitting the claims. Amazon has therefore warned that he will monitor the use of their reports to verify their accuracy.

"We provide brands with an unprecedented level of accountability, and we are ready to do so because we believe that Amazon's combined strengths and brands can reduce counterfeits to zero, "writes the company in the site FAQ. Project Zero Web. "Brands must maintain a high level of accuracy to maintain their Project Zero privileges. We have put in place a number of processes to promote accuracy, including the training required as part of the Zero Project Registration process and ongoing monitoring to prevent the misuse of our tools. "

Project Zero is first launched in the United States as an invitation-only product, which brands can sign up for, before deploying more widely. Participants must have a trademark registered by the government and be registered in the Amazon Trademark Registry to participate.

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