In June 2020, upon mounting pressure from the federal government to get the platform’s wicked counterfeit problem under control, Amazon launched its Counterfeit Crimes Unit. The unit, composed of former federal prosecutors, investigators, and data analysts, is tasked with: (1) pursuing civil litigation against suspected counterfeiters; (2) working with brands in joint or independent investigations; and (3) aiding law enforcement officials worldwide in criminal actions against counterfeiters. Amazon has already begun work in this regard; and though counterfeiters continue to haunt brands by tricking consumers into buying inauthentic product, Amazon seems to be responding quickly to product owners’ complaints.
Just this month, pet medication supplier, Pet King Brands, discovered multiple counterfeit listings for its hydrocortisone ear solution, Zymox. Upon notification, Amazon removed the listings and issued refunds to customers who purchased the bogus products. In the past, refunds have been issued for some counterfeits, but usually only months after the listing was reported. Pet King is currently testing the counterfeit items to determine their contents and offer consumers more information (i.e., about potential health concerns, etc.).
Other brand owners, however, have been fighting counterfeit trolls for years with only bare minimum support from Amazon; relying heavily on their own lawyers to exterminate these brand leeches. For example, 71-year-old inventor Bonnie Tyler a/k/a “Granny Thug” has, with the help of her attorneys, removed about 800 counterfeit listings of her egg pealing product, the NEGG. Tyler herself spends time every day on the platform sniffing out infringers, and when asked what advice she would give to new product owners, Tyler said “I would immediately get your trademark.” Tyler’s battle has been ongoing for two years and predates Amazon’s new unit. Given the sheer volume of products on the platform, like Tyler, many owners will have to scare off counterfeiters with limited assistance from Amazon’s new task force.
If you are a brand owner, it is imperative that you monitor Amazon daily for cheap knockoff products disguised as your own. Contact an attorney who can offer a brand quality and safety enforcement program for your product to ensure that consumers are getting treated, not tricked, when they buy your product this holiday season.