The American Apparel & Footwear Association is not backing down when it comes to Amazon.
The Washington-based trade body, which represents over 1,000 retailers including Adidas and Gap, on Tuesday issued a second complaint to the U.S. government, accusing Amazon of facilitating the sale of counterfeit goods through its foreign sites.
In a letter to the United States Trade Representative, the AAFA once again urged it to add Amazon’s sites in the U.K., Canada and Germany to its Notorious Markets list and for the first time also its marketplaces in France and India.
The list highlights markets that are reported to engage in and facilitate substantial copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting, in turn harming the American economy, but last year’s plea from the AAFA fell on deaf ears as Amazon’s sites were not included in the list.
Rick Helfenbein, president and chief executive officer of the AAFA, said: “Despite its role as a leader in the worldwide retail landscape, and as an important selling partner for many of our member brands, Amazon continues to present significant counterfeit challenges.”
He detailed that since last year’s submission to USTR, the AAFA has had regular dialogue with Amazon to address the issues, but while this has had positive effects for some of its members and has led to the reduction of a number of counterfeit and infringing products, much more needs to be done.
“Engagement only goes so far — Amazon needs to go further, by demonstrating the commitment to the resources and leadership necessary to make their brand protection programs scalable, transparent, and most importantly, effective,” Helfenbein added.
“AAFA members continue to report that it is a constant struggle to maintain a clean marketplace on Amazon platforms and that Amazon does little to vet sellers on its platform. Anyone can become a seller with too much ease, and it is often misleading and difficult to interpret who the seller is.”
The AAFA also has its eyes on Amazon.com, urging the USTR to expand future reports to include domestic marketplaces. Many of its members report that the same issues they encounter on Amazon’s foreign marketplace extensions also persist on Amazon.com.
An Amazon spokeswoman stated that it is committed to eliminating counterfeits from its store and is working with AAFA and its members to protect their intellectual property.
“Amazon strictly prohibits the sale of counterfeit products. We invest heavily in prevention and take proactive steps to drive counterfeits in our stores to zero,” she said. “In 2018 alone, we invested over $400 million in personnel and tools built on machine learning and data science to protect our customers from fraud and abuse in our stores.”
She added that last year Amazon stopped over a million suspected bad actors from opening Amazon selling accounts before they published a single listing for sale, as well as blocking more than 3 billion suspected bad listings before they were published to its stores.
This is not the first time that the AAFA has picked a fight with an online retail giant. It had a long, drawn out battle with China’s Alibaba over counterfeit sales on its marketplaces, complaining to both the USTR and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Its marketplace Taobao made the list last year and the AAFA on Tuesday requested that Lazada, another Alibaba site also be featured.
While inclusion in the list does not reflect a violation of the U.S. law, officials use it to urge authorities to “intensify efforts” to combat piracy and counterfeiting and to use the information contained to pursue legal actions where appropriate.
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