Amazon has announced a new Anti-Counterfeiting Exchange information sharing partnership that allows participating stores to report and monitor bad actors who attempt to sell fake goods.
SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) today announced the Anti-Counterfeiting Exchange (ACX), an industry collaboration designed to make it safer to shop online and more difficult for counterfeiters to move among different stores to attempt to sell their counterfeit goods.
ACX allows participating stores to share information about confirmed counterfeiters who attempted to use their services to try to sell counterfeit products. By sharing information about these counterfeiters, ACX participants can identify and stop perpetrators more quickly than they would in the absence of this collaborative data sharing. In accordance with industry standards and best practices, an independent third party provides anonymized access for participants to share and receive information.
ACX has enabled regular information sharing and participants use this information in their ongoing efforts to detect and address counterfeiting, improve their individual risk evaluation systems, and make more robust referrals to law enforcement so bad actors can be held accountable.
Through ACX, Amazon has already detected hundreds of matching accounts where the same counterfeiter tried to create selling accounts on Amazon and at least one other store operator. The power of ACX comes from the fact that as soon as one of the participating stores catches a counterfeiter and shares the account information through the exchange, all the other stores participating in ACX can know about that counterfeiter and can stop them even more quickly in their store. Each participant makes its own independent decisions about whether and how to use the information in ACX...
...Amazon has been working with other members of ACX to pilot the exchange, ensure the appropriate guardrails, and design a scalable way to broaden participation to additional companies interested in stopping counterfeiters. Private sector partnerships around data sharing are crucial to combating counterfeiting.
Amazon invites other retailers and marketplace service providers to join the Anti-Counterfeiting Exchange and collaborate with the founding members to further strengthen the industry’s collective efforts against counterfeiters. Through ACX, counterfeiters and criminal organizations are on notice that the private sector is aligning against them and working to protect consumers and rights owners across the retail industry.
While I applaud any good faith efforts from marketplaces to tackle fakes and fraud on their sites, I can't help but note the tone of this press release is very different from how Amazon has handled other efforts to shine a light on these serious issues - like the tireless work The Counterfeit Report has put in over the years.
Amazon claims a policy that prohibits counterfeits; "Products offered for sale on Amazon must be authentic. The sale of counterfeit products is strictly prohibited" -- but that is simply not true.
In practice, and as evidenced by a letter from Amazon’s Corporate Counsel, the company acts much differently.
As previously reported, over the past eight years, The Counterfeit Report, a global award-winning consumer advocate and industry watchdog, has identified over 537,000 counterfeit, fraudulent, and replica items on Amazon. 189,678 counterfeits were removed from Amazon at the request of brand-owners. Amazon has refused to take action on complaints for over 45,000 counterfeits that remain listed for sale.
Amazon was also notified of an additional 226,972 fraudulent, dangerous items that are the cause-of-action against Amazon in a federal class-action lawsuit. The obvious fakes remain -- with over 135,000 of the hazardous items sold to consumers.
Amazon Corporate Counsel Annasara Purcell couched its rejection of thousands of counterfeit notifications as an "unacceptable abuse of Amazon's infringement reporting system." Setting their own rules, Amazon claims that a trademark must be registered in each jurisdiction the infringing product is sold, irrespective of the fact that many of the counterfeit items are shipped from or sold by China sellers to deceived U.S. consumers and are destroying U.S. businesses.
However, Amazon's distorted rationale doesn't explain why over 132,000 counterfeits identified in over 3,400 complaints from The Counterfeit Report were sold on Amazon in the U.S. (Amazon.com) or why the thousands of fakes remain...
...Amazon went on to notify The Counterfeit Report that "Amazon will no longer accept any notices of infringement that you [The Counterfeit Report] file. Any email that you send to any Amazon email address or submission channel will be automatically blocked by our systems." Hardly a credible, honest, or proactive effort to quell Amazon fakes, and the destructive impact on brand-owners...
...Amazon is sheltering behind its false claim simply to continue facilitating and enabling counterfeit and fraudulent products on its website. If Amazon were genuinely concerned about counterfeit items sold on its website, they would welcome reporting of counterfeits by any party, in any form, and then act to immediately remove those items from their websites, whenever and wherever the items are listed for sale. Instead, Amazon Counsel chose to undermine The Counterfeit Report's efforts to protect consumers and brand-owners -- the real victims of Amazon's counterfeit, fraudulent, and replica laden marketplace.
If Amazon is truly serious about addressing these issues, I'd suggest sending a personal invitation to join the Anti-Counterfeiting Exchange (along with a humble apology) to Craig Crosby at The Counterfeit Report.