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Amazon says it’s a victim of Trump admin’s ‘personal vendetta’ after landing on counterfeit list



Amazon just isn’t happy with the choice from the Trump administration to record plenty of its international web sites as havens for counterfeit merchandise in its annual report on “notorious markets” released Wednesday. The report, which seems to be into mental property safety and sizzling spots for counterfeiting and piracy, put Amazon’s Canada, UK, Germany, France, and India web sites on the record as on-line markets for knockoff items. It’s the primary time a US enterprise has been placed on the infamous markets record.

“The Assessment of Infamous Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy highlights 38 on-line markets and 34 bodily markets which can be reported to have interaction in or facilitate substantial trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy,” reads the press launch from the Workplace of the US Commerce Consultant. There is no such thing as a monetary penalty or regulatory oversight on account of being positioned on the record, however it does hurt Amazon’s repute and lumps it along with infamous counterfeit-friendly web sites.

“This exercise harms the American financial system by undermining the innovation and mental property rights of US IP homeowners in international markets. An estimated 2.5 %, or almost half a trillion {dollars}’ value, of imports worldwide are counterfeit and pirated merchandise,” the discharge goes on to say. The report’s focus stays on totally on the “distribution of pirated content material and counterfeit items on-line,” with a brand new deal with “the nexus between on-line piracy and malware.”

Amazon, in a press release, accused the Trump administration of advancing the president’s “private vendetta” in opposition to Amazon and its chief government, Jeff Bezos. “This purely political act is one other instance of the administration utilizing the US authorities to advance a private vendetta in opposition to Amazon,” a company spokesperson told Politico. “Amazon makes important investments in proactive applied sciences and processes to detect and cease dangerous actors and doubtlessly counterfeit merchandise from being offered in our shops.” The corporate even went as far as to publish a weblog submit calling its inclusion on the record “wrongful.”

“The Administration right this moment wrongfully named Amazon’s shops in Canada, France, Germany, India and the UK to the U.S. Commerce Consultant’s (USTR) annual Infamous Markets Checklist, even supposing greater than 99.9 % of pages seen worldwide by clients on Amazon have by no means had a report of counterfeit,” the weblog posts reads. “We strongly disagree with the characterization of Amazon on this USTR report.”

Amazon says it invested $500 million in 2019 and now employs 8,000 individuals for the aim of combating fraud and abuse. The corporate additionally says its automated programs and its guide overview insurance policies have additionally blocked 2.5 million suspected “dangerous actors” from itemizing on its third-party Market platform, which generates greater than half of all Amazon retail gross sales and contains sellers from everywhere in the world. In doing so, Amazon claims it “blocked greater than 6 billion suspected dangerous listings earlier than they had been printed to our shops.”

However the firm has a historical past of turning a blind eye to knockoffs, particularly within the attire and footwear division, and it was the US American Attire and Footwear Affiliation that urged the Trump administration to research Amazon’s function within the surge of on-line gross sales of counterfeit clothes and sneakers.

In some instances, Amazon has struck offers with corporations, like Apple and Nike, to carry out so-called model gating that stops third-party sellers, whether or not real or in any other case, from promoting merchandise underneath a trademarked banner. Simply final November, nevertheless, Nike ended its participation as a wholesaler on Amazon over a reported lack of management over third-party sellers, a few of whom trafficked in Nike counterfeits, and the stiff competitors on Amazon’s platform.

Moreover, the outcomes of such offers can have the impact of kicking out reliable resellers, as Apple’s did. That’s a scenario the Federal Commerce Fee started wanting into final summer time as a potential antitrust violation. However regardless, reducing a deal instantly with Amazon, if that deal persists and doesn’t bitter as Nike’s did, does certainly seem to guard an organization’s model id on the platform. Different applications the corporate runs to chop down on knockoffs embody its Challenge Zero initiative, launched final yr, that lets corporations flag and take away counterfeit listings with out requiring Amazon’s intervention.

But sandal-maker Birkenstock notably left the platform altogether over counterfeiting points it claims Amazon refused to assist with. Shoe firm Allbirds additionally accused Amazon of ripping off its signature design for one among its personal label manufacturers. Simply final week, a Wall Avenue Journal report discovered that Amazon’s personal workers accessed third-party vendor info to assist develop personal label copycat merchandise, and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) is now urging the US lawyer common to research the corporate over antitrust considerations. Even Amazon’s personal personal label manufacturers, together with its massively standard AmazonBasics line, have been hijacked by counterfeiters seeking to money in on the title and the related belief and search rating it carries.

Nonetheless, Amazon considers this current transfer by the White Home to be a punitive measure associated to Bezos and Trump’s long-running feud. The corporate cites the shortage of assets put towards charging caught counterfeit traffickers as one motive why the observe continues unabated and why, on this case, Amazon considers this extra of a transfer to hurt its repute somewhat than a solution to actively defend reliable retail manufacturers.

“Our retailer is a protected place to buy and that’s a testomony to our continued innovation, collaboration, and dedication to preventing counterfeit and different types of fraud,” reads Amazon’s weblog submit. “We’re an lively, engaged stakeholder within the battle in opposition to counterfeit. Nevertheless, within the final yr for which information was printed, solely 0.1 % of filed federal felony instances within the US concerned fees for trafficking in counterfeit items, and 56 % of counterfeiters sentenced that yr obtained no jail time.”

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