Amazon Project Zero: How Amazon Brands Can Protect Themselves Against Counterfeiters

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It’s no secret that counterfeiters are earning tons of money each year. According to the customs report, the sales of fake products have exceeded $400 billion. That’s more than 2 percent of the global international trade.

In fact, it’s easier to find a fake Chanel nowadays than a real one. You don’t have to go to the dark web to look for a replica of your favorite designer bag. You can find it on Amazon.

Amazon’s counterfeit problem is getting worse each year and it’s hurting the revenue of many brands and business. For years, Amazon tried to sweep the problem under the rug because they’re getting a huge cut from third party resellers.

But we all know that piracy is not exclusive to Amazon. You can also find a number of counterfeit products across different e-Commerce platforms, including Walmart, eBay, Wish, and AliExpress.  In fact, more than 70% of all counterfeit items are sold legitimate online marketplaces.

Counterfeiting can affect brands in many ways and can lead to reduced profits and revenues. Keep in mind that most counterfeiters don’t follow a brand’s MAP (Minimum Advertised Price). That is why fake goods are significantly cheaper than the authentic products. This could drive the brand value down and can negatively affect the brand’s reputation and desirability.

On April 3, 2019, the White House issued a memorandum on combating trafficking in counterfeit and pirated goods. This document highlights the importance of enforcing intellectual property laws. It also announces the efforts of the federal agencies to fight piracy and counterfeiting.  The White House also asked for the utmost cooperation of online third party sellers in combating the trafficking of pirated goods.


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What is the Amazon Project Zero?

After so many years, Amazon finally decided to start a war against the scrupulous counterfeiters. In February 2019, the retail giant launched Project Zero, a tool that businesses can use to protect their brands from pirates and counterfeiters.

Project Zero was designed to empower brands to protect their trademark and intellectual property. It also enables brands to proactively detect and remove fake product listings.

Please take note that Project Zero is still at its early stage. Its features are still limited. Also keep in mind that this anti-counterfeiting program is totally different from a research initiative called Project Over Zero.


How Can Project Zero Remove Counterfeits on Amazon?

In the past, Amazon has launched various tools to help brands protect their trademark and intellectual property. But, all these efforts are unfortunately not well-executed.

Amazon has a tool that allows businesses to report counterfeits. But, the process is long and a bit complicated. Some brand owners don’t have the time to look for counterfeit products and report them one by one.

Project Zero is a revolutionary tool that has three key features, including:

 

1. Automated Protections

To use this feature, you have to provide Amazon your trademark, logo, and other important things that set your brand apart from others.

Amazon scans over 5 billion product listing updates every day using advanced machine-learning algorithms to look for potential fake and pirated products. This tool also automatically investigates and removes suspected counterfeit products.

 

2. Product Serialization

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Gone are the days when codes like GTIN (global trade item number), FNSKU (fulfillment network stock keeping unit), UPC (universal product code), and EAN (European article numbering) are enough to protect your product from counterfeiters.

Product serialization allows you to apply unique codes to your products to prove their authenticity.  These codes make it easier for Amazon’s advanced machine-learning algorithms to find and identify fake goods or counterfeits.

You don’t have to serialize your products. But, brands that serialize their products are getting optimal results.

But, this service is not free. Amazon charges around $0.01 to $0.05 for each serialized product sold. This means that you’ll have to pay $10 to $50 for every 1000 units sold. That’s a great deal!

 
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3. Self-Service Counterfeit Products Removal

This feature is the reason why Project Zero is so amazing. Self-service Counterfeit Removal gives brand owners the power to get rid of fake product listings and replicas.

In the past, you have to manually report the fake product on Amazon and how that the product will be removed without problems or additional efforts. This process can be tedious. And, if Amazon doesn’t remove that product listing for some reason, you’d end up wasting your precious time.

The counterfeit removal feature allows you to remove the fake product listing yourself. This tool is not only powerful - it’s also time-efficient. You see, counterfeit products create a leak in your revenue bucket and can significantly decrease your brand value. This tool enables you to fix that leak right away.

But, a tool as powerful as this one can be abused.  Some people can use this to get rid of their fiercest competitors. Fortunately, Amazon has thought about that possibility. You must maintain a high level of reporting accuracy to maintain your Project Zero access and privileges.

Amazon reviews the removal after the fact, so don’t remove a listing unless you’re sure that it’s fake. You must follow strictly follow the project’s guidelines to avoid losing your access to this awesome feature.  

As previously mentioned, Project Zero is still at its early stage. But, it’s already extremely useful, especially for big brands. Some people call this tool Government Zero Amazon because it enforces the mandate of the White House to fight piracy and intellectual property violations.


How to Join Amazon Zero

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For now, Amazon Zero is still an invite-only program. This means that the retail giant only chooses a few brands to join this program. It’s only available to more established brands like Thunderworks, Chom Chom Roller, and Kenu.

But, Amazon may soon open slots for smaller brands. To have a chance to join Amazon zero, you must follow these steps:

 
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Step 1 – Register your trademark.

A trademark can be a symbol, a word, or a phrase that represents your company. It could be your company name or your logo.

You can use the symbol ™ even if your trademark is not registered. But, here’s the thing, you can’t enforce it. This means that you cannot sue someone who steals your brand name if it’s not registered.

Registering your trademark through the United States Patent and Trademark Office gives you exclusive rights to your brand name. It gives you the right to seek legal remedies and ask for damages for intellectual property infringement.

Having a registered trademark is sort of a status symbol. It gives you the right to use the symbol ®. It also increases your brand credibility and value.

Most of all, having a registered brand allows you to join the Amazon Brand Registry, a free program that gives you access to awesome features like Project Zero, Enhanced Brand Content (EBC), and Amazon Brand Store.

 

Step 2 – Join the Amazon Brand Registry (ABR)

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As previously mentioned, being part of the Amazon Registry gives you access to fantastic features that keep you one step ahead of your competitors. It gives you the ability to control your brand listing’s content. It also comes with a powerful search tool that makes it easier for you to look for specific listings and content.

Famous brands like Huawei, Whirlpool, KitchenAid, New Balance, Levi Strauss & Co., Casio, and Procter & Gamble are part of this program. To join the Amazon registry, you must do the following:

1. Make sure you meet the eligibility requirements.

To enroll you’re the ABR program, you have to submit the following:

  • A USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) Registered Trademark that appears on your product packaging. Take note that your name must appear as the contact person on your trademark registration.

  • Text-based marks like brand name

  • Image-based marks like product packaging and logo. Keep in mind that your logo must have both text and image.

  • A list of countries where your products are distributed.

  • A list of all your product categories (clothing, electronics, etc.)

Keep in mind that the requirements are different if you’re planning on selling your products on global marketplaces such as Amazon.ca, Amazon.fr, Amazon.co.uk, and Amazon.com.uk.

2. Sign in to your seller or vendor central account.

3. Enroll your brand.

 

Step 3- Join the Project Zero Waitlist

As previously mentioned, Project Zero is an invite-only program for now. If you are interested, you have to join the waitlist. Once approved, you will have to undergo an extensive training before you can use the self-service counterfeit removal tool.


Final Thoughts: Using Project Zero the Amazon Counterfeit Policy

The Amazon Counterfeit Policy requires all sellers to sell nothing but authentic products. Sadly, a lot of policy violators got away in the past.

Project Zero enforces the retail giant’s anti-counterfeiting policy and it is also aligned with the federal government’s effort to limp and eventually destroy unscrupulous and shady counterfeiters.

This anti-counterfeiting program is not perfect yet, but it is groundbreaking as it empowers businesses to fight counterfeiters and proactively protect their brand.