Amazon's relentless fight against counterfeiters has led to the implementation of several programs aimed at protecting its customers from counterfeit products, and simultaneously protecting the intellectual property of brands on its platform.
From the innovative Brand Registry program to the powerful Counterfeit Crimes Unit, Amazon has built a track record of taking aggressive actions to safeguard brands and consumers alike. Last year alone, Amazon was able to remove six million counterfeit products from its platform.
“We develop advanced technology, including machine learning models, to identify and stop bad actors and bad listings. We protect brands and customers by constantly developing, investing in, and improving our protections.” - Amazon
In this article, we’ll take a look at the initiatives Amazon has spearheaded in the fight for brand protection, before advising businesses on how to up their brand protection efforts on Amazon’s marketplace.
A Timeline of Amazon’s Brand Protection Initiatives
After learning about the presence, and subsequent explosive growth, of counterfeit products on its platform, Amazon began the development of dedication projects aimed at bolstering brand protection efforts.
From facilitating trademark registration and developing trusting relationships with key brands to working with international law enforcement in anti-counterfeiting operations, Amazon has proven that it’s truly motivated to end the sale of counterfeit goods on its platform.
Let’s take a look at the major brand protection initiatives started at Amazon.
2016 - Brand Registry
In 2016, Amazon made their first major move towards fighting counterfeiting by launching the Brand Registry program, designed to help owners of registered trademarks protect their IP rights on Amazon’s marketplaces. This program essentially allows brands to plant their flag on the platform.
By claiming ownership of their IP on Amazon, brands were given access to a smooth reporting system for any infringements they found. With the brand now trusted within Amazon’s ecosystem, these reports would carry greater weight than before, and started to give companies control over their own IP.
This program also included a level of automated protection. By providing brand data to the platform, Amazon had more power to remove listings that infringe on brands' IP before they got published.
To learn more, check out MarqVision’s Comprehensive to Amazon’s Brand Registry.
2019 - Project Zero
Project Zero was designed to the next level of IP protection on the platform. While Brand Registry started to implement basic automation, Project Zero was a big step forward with technology, using machine learning to automatically remove suspected counterfeit products from the platform. Amazon now claims to check over 8 billion product listings every day under this program.
Another key feature within Project Zero was the self-service removal system. Amazon placed a great amount of trust in brands within the Project, giving them the power to remove infringing listings from the platform without having to confer with Amazon itself. The Project was open to brands with a proven track record of accurate reporting of counterfeit goods.
Thirdly, Project Zero introduced a system of product serialization. With this, brands could now add a unique code to their products, ensuring product authenticity at the unit level. Amazon has dealt with issues related to commingling products in warehouses, so this was their solution to this problem - a final, brand-approved verification for products before they get shipped to end consumers.
2020 - Counterfeit Crimes Unit
Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU) was launched in 2020, with the aim of taking its brand protection operations further than ever before. Amazon invited brands, customers, and law enforcement to the table to work together to bring down major counterfeiting rings, assembling a global team of former federal prosecutors, experienced investigators, and data analysts.
The program scored a major win last year, as the CCU worked with law enforcement and major brands including BMW, Puma, Lacoste, and others to disrupt three major counterfeiting operations in China. The operation led to the seizure of a quarter of a million counterfeit products, with the ring's leaders being detained by local Public Security Bureaus.
2020 - IP Accelerator
Amazon didn’t wait long to unveil their next brand protection program, the IP Accelerator. This program connects brands with trusted law firms that promise to complete trademark registrations within days. For many of our readers, who may have found the process of registering trademarks to be sluggish and even arduous at times, the IP Accelerator could be a complete game-changer.
Not only does Amazon’s IP Accelerator help with registration, but it also offers brands in the program a fast-track to the Brand Registry. Usually, acceptance into the Brand Registry requires a completed trademark registration, but the IP Accelerator allows businesses to sign up even when their registration is ongoing.
2021 - A-to-Z Guarantee Expansion
Amazon announced a major policy update to the A-to-Z Guarantee in late 2021, bringing significant changes for sellers. These updates primarily impact how sellers handle property damage and personal injury claims related to defective products, as well as the requirements for holding product liability insurance.
Acting as an intermediary, Amazon will now pay customers’ claims for defective products under $1,000 themselves, eliminating the need for sellers to reimburse the customer directly. This significant shift in accountability offers relief to legitimate sellers, who now don’t feel the responsibility to answer for the actions of counterfeiters targeting their brand, while maintaining a focus on customer satisfaction and an intolerance for fake products.
What Are Brands’ Responsibilities on Amazon?
Amazon’s efforts to support brand protection efforts on its own platform is certainly worthy of some applause. However, this does not mean brands are free to sit back and let Amazon protect their brand for them. Businesses still have the bulk of the responsibility of protecting their brand, even on Amazon’s marketplace.
So what must brands do to ensure they are protected on Amazon?
1 - Register Intellectual Property
The most crucial step for brands in protecting their IP on Amazon is to ensure that it’s fully registered and properly managed. Registering trademarks, copyrights, and patents provides the first legal protection against counterfeiting and strengthens your brand's defense against counterfeiters. Without registered IP, brand protection is ultimately a losing battle for businesses.
To simplify this process, Marq Folio helps brands efficiently register and manage their IP rights. With Folio's comprehensive tools and guidance, you can register and safeguard your brand's assets and establish a strong, long-term foundation for brand protection on Amazon.
2 - Join Amazon’s Programs
While Amazon has implemented various programs for brand protection, it's important for brands to actively engage with these initiatives to maximize their benefits.
By participating in programs like Brand Registry, Project Zero, and IP Accelerator, you gain access to enhanced reporting systems, automated protection mechanisms, and expedited trademark registrations. Proactive involvement in these programs demonstrates your commitment to brand protection and strengthens your partnership with Amazon in the fight against counterfeits.
3 - Protect Your Own Brand on Amazon
It is essential for brands to take ownership of their brand protection efforts on Amazon’s platform. A full brand protection strategy includes monitoring product listings, customer reviews, and seller activities to detect unauthorized sellers, counterfeit products, and other IP violations.
By combining the power of registered IP, active engagement with Amazon's programs, and the support of a reputable brand protection service, you can establish a robust defense against counterfeiters and ensure the integrity of your brand on Amazon's marketplace.
Safeguard your intellectual property, join forces with Amazon, and take charge of your brand protection journey.