I know that one of the major challenges that you will likely face as an Amazon seller is someone stealing your patented ideas or selling counterfeit versions of your goods on Amazon.
Through several years of selling products with unique designs on Amazon, I’ve discovered that there’s a chance of having your product counterfeited. I decided to investigate the steps to take when this happens deeply.
My goal in this article is to help you understand the process of dealing with counterfeit products on Amazon, how to identify them, and protect your business as a seller.
Dealing With Counterfeit Products on Amazon
As an Amazon seller, finding out that someone else has duplicated your product can be frustrating. It damages your brand’s reputation and may lead to lost revenue and possible legal issues. If this occurs, you must move quickly and effectively to remove those counterfeit goods from the market.
How to Remove Counterfeit Versions of Your Products on Amazon
In response to the persistent issue of counterfeit products, the United States Congress passed the Stop Counterfeits Act in 2019. This legislation provides additional tools to combat counterfeiting by empowering online platforms like Amazon to act aggressively against sellers of counterfeit goods.
The Stop Counterfeits Act enhances the legal framework for holding online marketplaces accountable for facilitating the sale of counterfeit products. If you find a counterfeit of any of your products on Amazon, you should follow these steps to ensure such products are taken down. Here are eight steps to follow to remove counterfeit products on Amazon:
Step 1: Determine the Specific Intellectual Property Violated on Amazon
Before taking action, you must pinpoint the specific intellectual property (IP) at the center of the infringement. This could be trademarks, patents, or copyrights associated with your product. Conduct a thorough assessment to determine the nature of the violation. Identifying the specific type of intellectual property violated helps Amazon determine its next line of action.
Step 2: Access Amazon’s Page for Reporting Intellectual Property Infringement
Head to Amazon’s dedicated Intellectual Property Infringement Report Page. Here, you can notify Amazon of your intentions to take action against a counterfeited product. Amazon will address your concerns once you complete the Intellectual Property Infringement Report form using your Amazon account.
Ensure you report using the right domain to ensure that Amazon can act swiftly. If the counterfeit is available on different Amazon domains, you must file individual reports for each domain.
Step 3: Specify Your Role: IP Rights Holder or Authorized Agent
In filling out the form, one of the first things you must do is state your role in the situation clearly, whether you are the registered IP rights owner or acting as an agent on behalf of the owner. This distinction will make the resolution process smoother.
Step 4: Choose the Category of IP Infringement
In its dropdown menu, Amazon categorizes intellectual property infringement into different types, such as:
- Copyright concerns
- Trademark concerns
- Patent concerns
- Design right concerns
- Other concerns
You have to choose the category that matches your case. For counterfeited goods, this is usually “Trademark concerns”.
Step 5: Furnish Details About Your Product
Next, you have to provide Amazon with comprehensive details about your product. You will also have to include the brand name and your trademark number. You must also clearly explain that your product has been counterfeited, with evidence supporting your claim. This will help Amazon understand your position and grant you a favorable ruling.
Step 6: Elaborate on Details of the Counterfeit Item
In this step, you should provide details about the counterfeit product. Ensure you include product URLs or ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number). This will be instrumental in Amazon’s investigation process.
Step 7: Input Your Contact Information
Next, you must provide accurate and up-to-date contact details for Amazon to reach you. This should include the following:
- Full name
- Phone number
- Company details
- Email address
Ensure you only provide official details, as Amazon will need them for any additional information or updates during their investigation.
Step 8: Await Amazon’s Response
Once you submit the report, all you have left to do is wait. Amazon will thoroughly review the information provided and initiate an investigation. This should take about 1-3 working days on average. However, if you have waited longer than that, you might want to fill out the form again.
Risks and Consequences
When it comes to dealing with counterfeit items on Amazon, the consequences run even after the initial transaction. Here are some of the risks and consequences of selling counterfeit goods on Amazon:
Suspended or Terminated Account
For sellers, the stakes are high. Selling on a platform like Amazon has strict rules and regulations you must adhere to, and selling counterfeit goods is a huge offense. The consequences could be a swift and severe suspension or, in some cases, the outright termination of the seller’s account once investigations are completed.
Amazon has shown serious commitment to protecting consumers and the entire market ecosystem from the evil of counterfeit goods. The listing is promptly removed once a product is flagged as a counterfeit. For sellers, this means losing visibility, potential sales, and credibility on the platform.
When Amazon confirms that certain products in its warehouses are counterfeit, they quickly seize them and may subsequently destroy them. This results in financial losses and introduces legal issues for the seller.
Legal and Financial Ramifications
In addition to being against market regulations, counterfeiting is illegal. Implicated sellers may risk legal action, including fines and lawsuits from aggrieved customers or companies. Beyond seized inventory, severe financial repercussions could jeopardize the businesses’ ability to continue operating.
On a platform like Amazon, reputation and trust means everything. Sellers involved with counterfeit goods could lose credibility and never recover from its impact. Negative reviews, widespread social media backlash, and a general loss of consumer trust can follow a company long after the counterfeit scandal has ended.
Amazon’s Role and Efforts to Combat Counterfeits
After being accused of not doing enough In the relentless battle against counterfeit items, Amazon has implemented a multifaceted approach to combat the sale of counterfeit products.
The Counterfeit Crimes Unit
Amazon has established the Counterfeit Crimes Unit. This dedicated team actively and proactively pursues legal action against counterfeiters. Amazon is going all out to combat any attempts to compromise the integrity of its marketplace rather than only responding to issues raised.
Advanced Technology and Machine Learning for Detection
Amazon has realized that while the role of humans in identifying and reporting counterfeit goods is important, it will take more than that to stay ahead of counterfeiters. Amazon has adopted machine learning algorithms and cutting-edge technologies to identify and stop the listing of counterfeit goods.
Collaboration with Government Agencies and Brands
Amazon understands the role of collaboration in the fight against counterfeit goods. Consequently, Amazon works closely with government agencies, IP rights owners, and brands to identify and take down counterfeit goods from its platform.
Protecting Your Business as a Seller
As a seller, you also have a role in safeguarding your business from the threat of counterfeit products. Here are some of the proactive and strategic steps to take:
Enroll in Amazon’s Brand Registry
Amazon’s Brand Registry is more than just a bonus feature. You should use it as your first line of defense. It gives you more control over your brand’s visibility on the platform. It also allows you to control product listings. This will make it easier to distinguish your authentic products from counterfeits easily.
Monitor Product Listings and Report Violations
Vigilance is an integral part of keeping counterfeits at bay. Keep a close eye on your product listings, paying close attention to information such as prices, descriptions, and photos. Watch out for anything that deviates from your set criteria, and report any counterfeit items you see.
Take Legal Actions Against Counterfeiters
Sometimes, to play defense means you have to go on the offensive. If you are dealing with frequent counterfeit concerns, you should consider pursuing legal action. This could range from sending cease-and-desist letters to seeking legal action through the courts in more extreme circumstances.
While Amazon has tools to help sellers combat counterfeiters, taking legal action offers more deterrence. The United States government has criminalized the trafficking of counterfeit goods under Title 18, Section 2320 of the U.S. Code.
This statute imposes severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment, on individuals involved in producing, distributing, and selling counterfeit products.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Should I Do If I Suspect a Product I Purchased is Counterfeit?
If you feel a product you have purchased is counterfeit, report it to Amazon immediately. Navigate to the product listing, select the “Report a Problem” option, and offer specific details about your concerns. Include the seller’s name, product information, and evidence supporting your concern. Amazon takes these allegations seriously and launches investigations right away.
Are All Low-Priced Products on Amazon Necessarily Counterfeit?
No, not all low-cost products are counterfeit. However, unusually low costs should raise red flags. Compare the price to the typical market value, check product specifics for consistency, and read customer reviews. Discounts may be offered on genuine products, however, you should investigate prices that seem too good to be true.
How Quickly Does Amazon Typically Respond to Reports of Counterfeit Products?
Amazon makes every effort to respond swiftly to allegations of counterfeit items. The timeline may vary, however, the platform takes these allegations seriously and launches investigations as soon as possible to ensure the marketplace’s integrity. You can monitor the status of the reports using your Amazon account.
Dealing with counterfeit products on Amazon might seem like a big challenge. Still, it is crucial to safeguard consumers and maintain a fair marketplace for sellers and buyers. By taking these measures, you contribute to Amazon’s efforts to hold sellers accountable for policy violations.