For the first time ever, Amazon acknowledged a particular risk factor back in February in its annual 10-K filing: Counterfeits. Not that this is news to everyone else - criticism of Amazon's "supposed" diligence in fighting counterfeits is steadily rising. Lawsuits are also on the rise against the e-commerce giant like Daimler AG, the parent company of Mercedes Benz, accusing Amazon of trademark infringement. Others are refusing to sell their product on Amazon at all, like Birkenstock, who pulled their brand off of Amazon due to the high volume of counterfeits being sold.
Here's what Amazon had to say about counterfeit goods in its annual filing:
"Under our seller programs, we may be unable to prevent sellers from collecting payments, fraudulently or otherwise, when buyers never receive the products they ordered or when the products received are materially different from the sellers’ descriptions. We also may be unable to prevent sellers in our stores or through other stores from selling unlawful, counterfeit, pirated, or stolen goods, selling goods in an unlawful or unethical manner, violating the proprietary rights of others, or otherwise violating our policies. Under our A2Z Guarantee, we reimburse buyers for payments up to certain limits in these situations, and as our third-party seller sales grow, the cost of this program will increase and could negatively affect our operating results. In addition, to the extent any of this occurs, it could harm our business or damage our reputation and we could face civil or criminal liability for unlawful activities by our sellers."
On their website, Amazon's anti-counterfeiting policy states: "We stand behind the products sold on our site with our A-to-z Guarantee, and we encourage rights owners who have product authenticity concerns to notify us. We will promptly investigate and take all appropriate actions to protect customers, sellers, and rights holders."
Despite the promises they make in their policy, accusations are flying that Amazon is complicit in the sale of counterfeit goods. Others have called it "modern-day piracy", especially since Amazon's profits have soared since allowing China-based companies to sell directly to the West, and a large majority of counterfeits are coming from China.
Two important tools to battle counterfeits and protect your brand
1. Amazon Brand Registry
The first important step you can take to protect your brand is Amazon Brand Registry. With Brand Registry, Amazon is better able to protect your rights and prevent cases of infringement. In order to enroll you will need:
An active registered trademark for your brand that appears on your products or packaging.
The ability to verify yourself as the rights owner or the authorized agent for the trademark.
2. Amazon Transparency
Another important step is to enroll in Amazon Transparency, an item-level tracing service that helps protect brands and keep counterfeits from reaching customers. In order to enroll, you will need:
The ability to verify yourself as the brand owner for your products.
The Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), such as UPC barcode on your products.
The ability to apply unique Transparency codes on every unit you manufacture.
Protecting your brand takes diligence
Dealing with unscrupulous sellers that infringe on your brand can be a time-consuming, stressful task. Are you tired of facing the uphill battle alone? The experts at Ripcord Brands will work diligently to protect your brand and maintain its integrity. Send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call: (303) 536-5505.