Amazon Invites Retailers to Join Anti-Counterfeiting Group

Amazon customer, phone and box feature

Amazon is inviting other retailers to join an anti-counterfeiting cooperative, begun as a pilot program in 2021 to help stem the flood of illegitimate goods on its marketplace and across the industry, two weeks after filing three separate lawsuits against counterfeiters.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Exchange (ACX) is open to merchants and retailers both inside and outside Amazon. Participants can share information about confirmed counterfeiters who attempt to use their sites to try to sell counterfeit goods. The exchange uses a third party to anonymize the data in order to protect consumer identities.

ACX was a pilot initiative of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, which Amazon subsequently joined. It was created in response to a 2019 memorandum on combatting counterfeit goods, and a subsequent report identifying best practices for doing so through industry cooperation.

Amazon said in a release it has detected hundreds of matching accounts indicating that the same counterfeiter tried to create seller accounts on Amazon and at least one other retailer. When any participant in ACX shares account information about a counterfeiter, the company said, it makes it easier for others to detect and stop them. Each participating company makes its own decisions about how to use the information shared.

“We want our customers to have confidence in their shopping experience and for brands to know they are protected from counterfeits,” said Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s vice president of Selling Partner Services in a release. “We think it is critical to share information about confirmed counterfeiters to help the entire industry stop these criminals earlier.”

“The IPR Center applauds the foundational efforts made by the Anti-Counterfeiting Exchange, and we’re pleased to have been a part of its creation,” said James Mancuso, director of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center. “This is an opening salvo in a much larger battle against counterfeiters and criminal organizations, and the effort will need even greater participation, from all industries and sectors, to reach its full potential.”

According to an October 2021 report from the Buy Safe America Coalition, Amazon and other third-party marketplaces were flooding the market with counterfeit goods, Bloomberg reported. The coalition, whose members include the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), said at the time counterfeit goods were costing retailers an estimated $54 billion a year in lost sales.

Amazon has taken notice, forming an anti-counterfeiting crime unit in 2020 that includes former federal prosecutors, investigators and data analysts. The lawsuits announced earlier this month were the work of that team.