Amazon takes action against counterfeiting

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Just as in the previous year, Amazon has again invested more than one billion euros in brand protection activities in 2023. This is revealed in the e‑commerce giant’s new brand protection report, which also summarizes important steps and notable results.

In April, the US online retailer Amazon published its fourth annual brand protection report, this time covering brand protection activities in 2023. According to the report, over seven million counterfeit products have been identified, confiscated, and disposed of in the past year. The report also says that Amazon spent around 1.2 billion US dollars (around 1.1 billion euros) on brand protection measures in 2023, similar to the previous year. In addition, the group again employed around 15,000 employees to take action against the sale of counterfeits on its platforms, to protect brands, buyers, and selling partners.

Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU) plays an important role in the group’s brand protection activities. Since it was founded in 2020, the CCU has pursued more than 21,000 bad actors through litigation and criminal referrals to law enforcement. In addition, Amazon says it also stepped up its cross‑border measures in cooperation with Chinese law enforcement authorities last year. Officials reportedly carried out around 50 raids and arrested around 100 suspects, including suspected manufacturers, suppliers, and upstream sellers of counterfeit items. According to Amazon, the measures have already resulted in numerous criminal convictions.

The group also reports that it was able to prevent around 700,000 attempts to create new seller accounts with bad intentions. According to the report, this figure was still at 6 million attempts in 2020. Amazon considers this decline to be an indication of the success of its seller verification measures. To achieve this, Amazon, for example, uses technologies that check the authenticity of ID documents as well as advanced image and video verification tools.

Amazon sees its technical measures against counterfeiting, including applications using artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced machine learning models, as one of the reasons why it has recorded a significant decline in relevant reports of infringements by brands. These have decreased by around 30% since 2020. In addition, new systems were implemented in 2023 that are designed to also detect more complex, visual infringements of intellectual property, such as counterfeit logos.

In its report, Amazon emphasizes its measures to educate and raise awareness, aimed at supporting protective measures, tools, and legal action against counterfeiting. For example, the company has launched the so‑called Unreal Challenge in collaboration with the International Trademark Association (INTA) and the study organization DECA. This is a competition for which 14‑ to 23‑year‑olds are asked to create a 60‑second video clip. In this clip, the young people and students are to draw attention to the dangers of counterfeiting. The first three places were able to win travel grants.

Nevertheless, Amazon’s work against counterfeiting faces repeated criticism, for example just recently in the latest round of the Plagiarius negative awards. Plagiarius argued that Amazon was not doing enough to remove counterfeits of certain Volkswagen gear knobs and was not responding to a warning letter.

Sources: Amazon, DECA, INTA

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