For the third time, Amazon has now published its annual brand protection report, which was released in early April and demonstrates the company’s efforts and successes in the fight against counterfeiting. According to this, over six million counterfeit products have been removed from circulation in 2022. Amazon says its actions have also resulted in more criminal referrals and industry partnerships than ever before. The group claims to have invested more than 1.2 billion dollars (ca. 1.1 billion euros) in 2022 and to have hired more than 15,000 new employees – including AI experts, software developers and investigators. This marks a significant increase in spending compared to the approximately 900 million dollars invested in 2021.
For this, the company apparently counted on a combination of new technologies and the work of brand protection experts, according to the report. For example, stricter seller verifications and video chats with potential sellers had been implemented to deter possible counterfeiters from even attempting to create accounts. Accordingly, over 800,000 suspicious attempts to create new accounts were thwarted in 2022, a significant decrease compared to 2020 (6 million) and 2021 (2.5 million). At the same time, Amazon continuously monitors existing offers for possible violations – around eight billion suspicious cases daily, according to the report.
// We take pride in the progress our organization has made this past year, specifically further evolving our technology to stay ahead of bad actors and doubling down on our criminal referral and litigation efforts.
Dharmesh Mehta, Vice President of Worldwide Selling Partner Services, Amazon.
Another example of measures taken is the so-called Brand Registry Service. With this, Amazon says it supports interested brand owners in managing their trademarks and other intellectual property (IP) rights. Right holders get an opportunity to identify and report violations. In addition, automated protection measures, for instance, scan shops for possible violations. According to the report, this reduced the number of illegal offers in 2022 compared to the previous year. Valid notices from brand owners about infringements of trademark rights were down by 35%, compared to 2021.
In addition to protective measures, tools, and legal actions against counterfeits, Amazon also emphasises its own communications measures for customers in the report. For example, the company has reportedly reached over 70 million people, working in cooperation with the US Chamber of Commerce and the US Customs Service. To protect customers, the company and the authorities provide helpful tips for purchasing safely and avoiding counterfeits.
Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU), which includes former federal prosecutors, FBI agents, investigators, and data analysts, also tracked down numerous counterfeiters in 2022, closed a large number of accounts, and initiated many criminal prosecutions, the group said. According to the Brand Protection Report, in 2022, the CCU was able to pull more than six million counterfeit products from the global supply chains and to take action against over 1,300 criminals with litigations and criminal referrals – often in close cooperation with customs and other law enforcement agencies.
Amazon, though, is also repeatedly facing criticism that it is not doing enough to prevent the trade in counterfeits on its own marketplace. For example, the German IT trade magazine c’t pointed out some months ago that some widespread offers for counterfeit storage media, for example, were quite easy to identify. So, marketplaces such as Amazon could take action to better protect their customers, c’t said.
In addition, pressure is also coming from politicians: After the European Union passed comprehensive regulations on online commerce last year with the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA), the USA also got active early this year: The American INFORM Consumers Act will require e‑commerce marketplaces in the USA to collect important data from high‑volume third‑party sellers in the future.