Amazon has responded to a request to add several of its sites to the US Trade Representatives’ ‘notorious markets’ list by pointing to its new anti-counterfeit tools – and a reluctance by some brands to use them.
In a letter, Amazon’s vice president of public policy Brian Huseman says the e-commerce giant has invested more than $400m in 2018 alone hiring 5,000-plus employees to police fraudulent and abusive behaviours on its online channels.
He also points to Amazon’s Brand Registry programme that allows rights holders to register trademarks, Transparency product serialization service, Project Zero for the automated takedown of suspect listings and a new intellectual property rights (IPR) programme for smaller companies as evidence it is going “well beyond” its legal obligations on the counterfeit issue.
The letter was prompted by a renewed request by the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) which represents more than 1,000 brands, for Amazon’s sites in India and France to be added to the notorious markets list.
Last year the AAFA said Amazon’s Canadian, UK, and German sites should also be included, the first time that it had targeted the retail giant for inclusion in the list.
Huseman asserts that despite “demonstrated effectiveness” of Amazon’s tools, some AAFA member brands have refused to use them.
He says 13 members of the AAFA’s Brand Protection Council have declined to enrol in Brand Registry, while only 22 brands have enrolled in Project Zero despite 51 being invited, and no AAFA member has adopted Transparency.
“We know that customer trust is hard to win and easy to lose, and we view counterfeiting as an existential threat: if customers do not trust what they purchase through Amazon’s stores, they can and will shop elsewhere,” writes Huseman in the letter.
He continues: “in 2018, our proactive efforts prevented over 1m suspected bad actors from publishing a single product for sale in our stores, blocked over 3bn suspected bad listings from being published on our stores, and ensured that over 99.9 per cent of products that customers actually viewed in Amazon’s stores never have received a complaint about a suspected counterfeit from a customer or rights owner.”