Amazon Gets Help in Counterfeiting Fight

Amazon Gets Help in Counterfeiting Fight
In an effort to protect consumers, this joint operation will analyze data and conduct targeted inspections.

Amazon is getting government help as the e-commerce operator battles counterfeiting.

The U.S. government’s National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) and Amazon have launched a joint operation to prevent counterfeit goods from entering the U.S. and help protect American consumers. U.S. Customs and Border Protection and DHL are also supporting the operation.

“The IPR Center plays a critical role in securing the global supply chain to protect the health and safety of the American public,” said IPR Center Director Steve Francis. “However, our efforts are increased with partners like Amazon to identify, interdict and investigate individuals, companies and criminal organizations engaging in the illegal importation of counterfeit products. This joint operation is our latest public-private initiative bringing us one step closer to border security.”

In an effort to protect consumers, this joint operation will analyze data and conduct targeted inspections aimed at preventing counterfeit products from entering the U.S. supply chain. The IPR Center and Amazon will leverage evidence obtained during the operation to expand ongoing investigations, with the goal of holding bad actors accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

“Amazon conducts investigations and sidelines inventory if we suspect a product may be counterfeit, ensuring our customers are protected,” said Dharmesh Mehta, VP, Customer Trust and Partner Support, Amazon. “But we also know that counterfeiters don’t just attempt to offer their wares in one store, they attempt to offer them in multiple places. Now, by combining intelligence from Amazon, the IPR Center, and other agencies, we’re able to stop counterfeits at the border, regardless of where bad actors were intending to offer them. We appreciate the partnership from the IPR Center and other agencies to protect American consumers and prosecute bad actors.”

This operation will be led by Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit, which was created earlier this year to support law enforcement investigations and to initiate civil litigation against counterfeiters.

Amazon says it strictly prohibits the sale of counterfeit products, and in 2019 alone, invested more than $500 million to protect its store and customers from counterfeit and other forms of fraud and abuse. These investments include machine learning and automated systems to detect bad actors and potentially counterfeit products, dedicated teams to operate and continually refine its anti-counterfeiting programs and tools that help Amazon work with and empower brands. As a result, 99.9% of pages viewed by customers on Amazon did not receive a valid counterfeit complaint and customers continue to shop with confidence on Amazon.

This operation builds on longstanding strategic public-private initiatives currently in place at the IPR Center. Amazon proactively provides the IPR Center with data on confirmed counterfeiters to assist with investigative efforts to stop crime. More recently in May, Amazon was one of six industry leaders to join the IPR Center in an unprecedented public-private partnership to combat fraud and other illegal activity related to COVID-19 through Operation Stolen Promise (OSP). OSP is a joint task force focused on combating COVID-19 related fraud and criminal activity.

The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. The center uses the expertise of 25 key federal and international agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to IP theft and commercial fraud crimes.

Meanwhile, other companies continue to pressure Amazon over the issue of fraud. 

The Buy Safe America Coalition, a diverse group of retailers, consumer groups, and manufacturers that support efforts to combat organized retail crime and protect consumers from the sale of counterfeit and stolen goods, responded to this recent Amazon move by saying that the company should support the INFORM Consumers Act. The bill is designed to modernize consumer protection laws by requiring online marketplaces to collect and verify basic seller information and having sellers provide that information to consumers.

“With this announcement, Amazon is acknowledging the massive — and still growing — scope of the problem with the sale of counterfeits and stolen goods on its platform,” said Michael Hanson, spokesperson for Buy Safe America Coalition“Supporting the INFORM Consumers Act will bring even greater transparency and accountability to online marketplaces and keep fraudulent goods from being sold online. Anything short of fully supporting this common-sense measure raises questions about how seriously Amazon supports stopping criminals from profiting on its platform in the first place.”

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