Amazon joins with US govt to block fake goods at the border

The US federal government and Amazon have launched a joint operation to prevent counterfeit goods from entering the US, which relies on intelligence sharing and inspections.

The online retail giant is partnering with the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Coordination Centre, a Department of Homeland Security-led body, on the initiative – dubbed Operation Fulfilled Action – which will be supported by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and logistics firm DHL.

The partners will “analyse data and conduct targeted inspections aimed at preventing counterfeit products from entering the US supply chain,” according to Amazon.

It is the latest initiative by Amazon as it tries to drive fake products off its platforms, particularly its Marketplace for third-party sellers - and as some brand owners are complaining that its much-touted measures to tackle counterfeiting don’t go far enough.

“Amazon conducts investigations and sidelines inventory if we suspect a product may be counterfeit,” said Dharmesh Mehta, the company’s vice president, customer trust and partner support.

“But we also know that counterfeiters don’t just attempt to offer their wares in one store, they attempt to offer them in multiple places,” he added.

By combining intelligence from Amazon, the IPR Center and other agencies, the company hopes to improve the ability to stop counterfeits at the border, “regardless of where bad actors were intending to offer them.”

The operation will be led by Amazon’s counterfeit crimes unit, a team of former federal prosecutors, investigators and data analysts which was created earlier this year to support law enforcement investigations and to initiate civil litigation against counterfeiters.

Launches IP Accelerator in Europe

Meanwhile, Amazon has rolled out another component in its anti-counterfeit toolset – aimed at making it easier for smaller companies to protect their intellectual property (IP) – in Europe, after a USD launch last year.

The IP Accelerator is now available in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands and the UK, Amazon’s six biggest markets in Europe, and where it already has more than 150,000 small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) selling on its websites.

The main aim of the scheme is to link SMBs with law firms who specialise in IP, who will charge fees at “competitive, pre-negotiated rates.”

It operates alongside Amazon’s other anti-counterfeit proposals such as Project Zero, which deploys a machine learning algorithm that can scans listings for suspected counterfeits and automatically takes them down – and a product serialization service called Transparency that allows products from participating companies to be scanned and verified before shipping.

“Larger businesses are four times more likely than SMBs to register their …IP rights,” said Amazon. “The main reason small business entrepreneurs do not protect their rights is because of a lack of knowledge about IP and not knowing where to turn.”

Businesses using IP Accelerator will also get access to Amazon’s wider brand protection services months or even years before their trademark registration is officially issued, according to the company.

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