Amazon has set up a Counterfeit Crimes Unit to combat the growing problem of fake products being listed on its platform.
The new division will be composed of former federal prosecutors, experienced investigators, and data analysts. It aims to reduce the number of counterfeits on its site to zero.
With a growing percentage of its sales coming from Amazon Marketplace, the e-tail giant is now under growing pressure to insure all those Marketplace products are legit.
The site says that 99.9% of the products on its site do not have a “valid counterfeit complaint.” It noted that in 2019, it blocked more than 6 billion suspected bad listings before any of those items went up for sale.
But even if that stat is true, the company still has a problem, trademark attorney Eric Perrott told IP Watchdog.
“Even if it’s only 1 percent of page views, that’s still a major problem considering how big Amazon is,” he said. “That has to be billions of page views on an annual basis.”
In November, The Washington Post reported that shoppers could easily buy a counterfeit version of Hermès’ Clic H bracelet, which usually sells for $640, for $24.99 on Amazon. If the price differential wasn’t enough of a tip-off, one reviewer even said that its makers “did a really great job with the fake.”
“Amazon has ceded control of its site,” wrote The Wall Street Journal last year. “The result: Thousands of banned, unsafe, or mislabeled products.”
Not only are counterfeits illegal, they are sometimes dangerous. A Senate Finance Committee report described how a couple purchased a “hoverboard” on Amazon as a Christmas gift for their daughters. But it contained a counterfeit Samsung battery, which ignited, causing nearly $4,000,000 in damage to the consumers’ home and property.
Last February, for the first time, Amazon listed the counterfeiting issue as a risk factor in an SEC filing.
“[Counterfeiting] could harm our business or damage our reputation, and we could face civil or criminal liability for unlawful activities by our sellers,” it said.
Now it says that it’s putting counterfeiters “on notice that they will be held accountable to the maximum extent possible under the law, regardless of where they attempt to sell their counterfeits or where they’re located.”
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