Amazon patents image-based counterfeit detection

Online retail giant Amazon has been awarded a US patent for a counterfeit detection system based on an imaging sensor.

The patent (No. 10,482,471) – entitled Unauthorized product detection techniques and filed by Amazon Technologies – describes a system suitable large-scale, high-speed use by retailers, wholesalers, and other product handlers.

It notes that “it can be difficult for such distributors and manufacturers to detect whether any of the items they receive and/or handle on behalf of others are unauthorized items (e.g., counterfeit, stolen or gray market items), even when the items are in their possession.”

The patent covers the use of imaging data for the product or its packaging as well as the use of “authentication markers” provided by the manufacturer of a product and unique identifiers such as serialized bar codes.

Amazon has come under fire for not doing enough to drive counterfeit goods off it websites, and last month there were reports that some of its national sites may be included in the US Trade Representatives next list of notorious marketplaces for intellectual property-infringing goods.

The company meanwhile has accused brand owners of missing an opportunity to clamp down on IP-infringing goods on its sites by not making use of anti-counterfeit tools such as its Transparency product serialization service and Project Zero for the automated takedown of suspect listings.

The abstract of the new patent appears below:

Unauthorized product detection techniques

Abstract: An unauthorized-product detection system may compare data representing various authentication markers of items presumed to have been produced or sourced by a particular entity with stored data representing valid authentication markers of items produced or sourced by the particular entity. The authentication markers may represent inherent physical characteristics of the items or their packaging, or may be generated and applied to the items or their packaging to facilitate counterfeit detection and/or for other purposes. The data (some of which may be encrypted) may be captured using high-resolution cameras, scanners, or other devices, and then communicated to the unauthorized-product detection system for analysis. The system may maintain a data store of data representing captured or valid authentication markers and may store tracking information reflecting the use of various authentication markers. The system may provide various unauthorized product detection services to consumers, retailers, or members of a supply-chain.

US Patent No. 10,482,471

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