Amazon expands ‘Project Zero’ anti-counterfeit program that Bezos cited in antitrust listening to

Picture: Julie Clopper /

Amazon is taking its “Project Zero” anti-counterfeit program to seven further nations, increasing a program designed to assist manufacturers battle faux merchandise, amid heightened scrutiny of knock-offs on its e-commerce platform.

Challenge Zero will now be accessible to sellers on the Amazon on-line shops in Australia, Brazil, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, bringing the entire to 17 nations, the company announced Monday night. Launched final 12 months, this system is already accessible within the U.S., UK, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Japan, India, Mexico, and Canada.

Amazon says greater than 10,000 manufacturers, starting from small corporations to massive international retailers, have enrolled in this system, which will get its title from Amazon’s acknowledged objective of zero counterfeit merchandise on its platform. The corporate cited the examples of Arduino, BMW, ChessCentral, LifeProof, OtterBox, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Veet as individuals.

Counterfeits have been one of many subjects that legislators grilled Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos about in a current Congressional antitrust listening to with different main tech CEOs.

“Amazon has said it’s fixing its counterfeit problem, but counterfeiting seems to be getting worse, not better,” mentioned U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, a Democrat from Georgia, asking Bezos why Amazon doesn’t do extra to battle counterfeits.

He added, “Amazon acts like it’s not responsible for counterfeits being sold by third-party sellers on its platform, and we’ve heard that Amazon puts the burden and cost on brand owners to police Amazon’s site, even though Amazon makes money when a counterfeit good is sold on its site.”

In response, Bezos outlined the corporate’s battle in opposition to counterfeits and disputed the notion that counterfeits are finally a profit to Amazon.

“I think this is an incredibly important issue and one that we work very hard on. Counterfeits are a scourge,” he mentioned. “It does not help us earn trust with customers. It’s bad for customers. It’s bad for honest third-party sellers. We do a lot to prevent counterfeiting. We have a team of more than a thousand people that does this. We invest hundreds of millions of dollars in systems that do this.”

For instance, Bezos pointed to Challenge Zero, saying it “helps brands serialize individual products, which really helps with counterfeiting.”

That was a reference to considered one of Challenge Zero’s three foremost elements, during which manufacturers apply a singular code within the packaging or product to permit Amazon to substantiate the authenticity of particular person merchandise. Challenge Zero additionally contains self-service instruments for manufacturers to take away listings from, and expertise that mechanically identifies suspicious listings.

“Amazon is committed to protecting our customers and the brands we collaborate with worldwide,” mentioned Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon vp of Worldwide Buyer Belief and Companion Help, in the news release announcing the expansion Monday night. “Project Zero has been a leap forward in protecting brands, especially for those that use all three of its components.”

Within the listening to, Rep. Johnson cited prior testimony from David Barnett, the CEO of PopSockets model cellphone holders, who had said in an earlier hearing that Amazon listed counterfeit variations of the product forward of real ones, and solely stopped the observe after PopSockets dedicated to spend $2 million on promoting.

“That’s unacceptable,” Bezos mentioned, promising to look into the specifics of the PopSockets claims, which received widespread coverage earlier this year. “If those are the facts, and if someone somewhere inside Amazon said, ‘Buy X dollars in ads, and then we’ll help you with your counterfeit problem,’ that is unacceptable.”

Even when Amazon makes cash within the brief time period on counterfeit items, it’s finally not in its greatest curiosity to permit faux items, Bezos mentioned. “I would much rather lose a sale than lose a customer,” he mentioned.

As famous by Bezos within the listening to, the corporate introduced the formation of an internal “Counterfeit Crimes Unit” earlier this year as part of its initiatives.

Amazon has additionally filed a sequence of lawsuits over counterfeit items in recent times, most lately joining Italian luxury fashion brand Valentino to pursue an alleged counterfeiter of the corporate’s Rockstud sneakers. Amazon has filed similar suits in the past in partnership with corporations including Nite Ize, a maker of cellular equipment and LED merchandise; Vera Bradley, designer of handbags and equipment; and high-end cellphone case firm OtterBox.

The corporate has sought to keep away from authorized legal responsibility for counterfeit items offered on its platform. In what grew to become a landmark case, Amazon was sued in 2013 by Seattle-based novelty pillowcase maker Milo & Gabby over knock-offs offered by different corporations on Courts sided with Amazon’s argument that the sellers of the counterfeits were the ones who should be held liable.

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