“[Amazon’s] constant lobbying to weaken regulatory measures while failing to tackle counterfeit products that ruin the prospects of small business owners should provide plenty of reason to question the authenticity of Amazon’s efforts to support sales of counterfeits through its e-commerce platform.
Earlier this month, e-commerce giant Amazon.com released its latest brand protection report detailing the steps the tech titan has taken to reduce the tide of counterfeit products being sold to consumers around the world. Although the report identifies several concrete steps that Amazon has taken to prevent counterfeits from being offered for sale, many questions remain about whether Amazon is truly committed to eliminating sales of counterfeit branded products for which the company is known. ignore.
Brand Protection Report Shows $900 Million Investment in Brand Protection Last Year
Amazon’s total investment in brand protection activities in 2021 reached more than $900 million, according to the report. Much of that money went into employing more than 12,000 brand protection professionals, including machine learning experts and investigators, leading to the seizure of more than 3 million products. counterfeits offered for sale on Amazon. Other highlights of the report include the prevention of 2.5 million sales accounts created by bad actors, a significant drop from the 6 million such accounts prevented in 2020, a 40% increase in the number active brands (700,000) using Amazon’s brand registry. , a 25% reduction in the number of Trademark Registry members reporting valid infringement notices, and 600 lawsuits and referrals to investigations against infringement transactions.
Amazon’s brand protection report was welcomed by the US Chamber of Commerce, which published a blog post on June 22 by the director of external and public affairs at the Global Innovation Policy Center ( GIPC) of the House, Scott Hall. As Hall notes, the international trade in counterfeit and pirated goods has reached as much as $464 billion in annual value. The message largely reiterates the key findings of Amazon’s brand protection report, but it’s clear the Chamber supports the steps Amazon is taking to combat counterfeits on its e-commerce platform.
In recent weeks, Amazon has also made headlines for teaming up with French luxury goods designer Cartier to file a pair of lawsuits in the Western District of Washington targeting counterfeit sales of Cartier’s LOVE bracelet on Amazon. These trademark lawsuits allege that several defendants, including a Chinese social media influencer operating under the name “Phym9y3v”, engaged in a scheme to sell counterfeit bracelets bearing Cartier’s trademarks while evading detection tools. counterfeit from Amazon. The lawsuits further allege that the defendant operating social media accounts under Phym9y3v used those accounts to distribute hidden links directing followers to counterfeit Cartier bracelets.
Small business owners call on Amazon to take tougher anti-counterfeiting measures
Amazon’s brand protection efforts are impressive in terms of raw numbers, and its recent lawsuits show that the e-commerce giant is ready to take on counterfeits threatening brands well known to consumers. In the past, however, the Big Tech stalwart has not been so quick to defend smaller players whose intellectual property rights are being violated on its e-commerce platform, which has become the second-largest retailer in the world. world in 2018 when it achieved nearly $121 billion in sales. Indeed, there are many indications that Amazon has been eager to ignore counterfeit operations and profit from those sales to the extreme detriment of small businesses.
One such small business suffering from Amazon’s reluctance to remove counterfeiters from its platform is Elevation Labs. In this article, Elevation Labs founder Casey Hopkins called out Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos for not taking simple preventative measures to control online sales of items that are likely not authorized by the true owner. of the brand. Hopkins also called on Amazon to create tougher standards for Chinese entities trying to sell products with genuine brands, noting that it would be highly unusual for US brand owners to ship wholesale products to Chinese companies with the permission to resell these items on Amazon at a lower price. .
The reluctance of Amazon and other companies to effectively police their own marketplaces came under intense scrutiny during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last November into counterfeit, stolen and dangerous goods sold through online marketplaces. Testimony at this hearing from Aaron Muderick, founder and president of toy company Crazy Aaron’s, reflected the incredible hardship that Amazon’s reluctance to weed out counterfeiters is inflicting on small businesses. Additionally, Muderick noted that the counterfeit versions of Crazy Aaron’s popular Thinking Putty magnetic product being sold are not manufactured to meet the same federal safety requirements applied to genuine products, posing a serious public health risk to consumers.
Amazon’s lobbying efforts should raise questions about the authenticity of law enforcement efforts
Although Amazon did not have a company representative at the hearing, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) specifically named that company during questioning, saying “Amazon is late for the party ” in terms of monitoring counterfeits. Durbin also pointed to Amazon’s proposed changes to bills such as the Integrity, Notice and Fairness of Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers (INFORM Consumers) Act that would help the commerce company electronics to avoid some of the stricter provisions of the bill.
Indeed, Amazon has been outspoken against another bill currently being debated in Congress that would impact a range of business activities conducted by major online platforms. On June 1, the company’s vice president of public policy, Brian Huseman, posted a blog post on Amazon’s website expressing concern about the US Online Innovation and Choice Act and the effects potential negatives of Amazon’s Prime subscription service bill. The message came just before news reports began to indicate that bipartisan support was growing in the Senate for the vote on the bill before the Senate recess in August.
Although several competition policy analysts have criticized the bill for giving the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) unfettered regulatory power to impose sanctions on vaguely defined “covered platforms,” others argue that the bill’s provisions limiting self-preference activities on these platforms provide Amazon and other large companies with ample opportunity to defend themselves against regulatory enforcement action. While this bill is not intended to improve Amazon’s enforcement of intellectual property rights against counterfeiters, the Big Tech corporation’s constant lobbying to weaken regulatory measures while failing to tackle counterfeit products ruining prospects Small business owners should provide plenty of reason to question the authenticity of Amazon’s efforts to support counterfeit sales through its e-commerce platform.
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