Amazon announced on Wednesday the creation of the Counterfeit Crimes Unit to take action against sellers listing counterfeit products. “In 2019, Amazon invested over $500 million and had more than 8,000 employees fighting fraud, including counterfeit. Amazon’s efforts have blocked over 6 billion suspected bad listings in 2019 and blocked over 2.5 million suspected bad actor accounts before they were able to make a single product available for sale,” the company said in its press release announcing the team. We have reached out to Amazon for comment on the Team’s involvement in India — in the press release, Amazon said it had identified counterfeiters in India and referred them to the authorities, but did not elaborate.
Earlier this year, the US Department of Homeland Security recommended a series of steps to control counterfeiting, including acting against repeat offenders, punishing international postal operators that do not cooperate with blacklisting efforts, and holding importers in the US with financial interest in the counterfeit products liable. E-commerce websites like Amazon and Flipkart are platforms that sell third party products, so they enjoy freedom from intermediary liability under the law. But pressure from both customers and governments has been increasing for them to take action against counterfeiters.
E-commerce counterfeiting in India
Nearly one in three Indian online shoppers have reported receiving counterfeit goods. The draft e-commerce policy required that e-commerce platforms allow brands to register and report counterfeits on their platforms, and take down products that cannot be proven to be original in a short period of time. On Wednesday, the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade directed e-commerce companies to figure out a way for customers to identify the country of origin for all products being sold on their platforms.
In 2018, Beverly Hills Polo Club obtained an order from the Delhi High Court to get Amazon to remove counterfeited links. Amazon countered then that it was already working with manufacturers to remove counterfeit links. “We have taken independent legal action against bad actors, and will continue to do so. And we work with law enforcement who present us with valid legal process,” the company said then. In July 2019, the company announced that its Transparency service to authenticate original products before they entered the market was being expanded to India among other countries.