Amazon

Amazon and the U.S.’ National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center are joining forces to block counterfeits from flowing into the country, the e-commerce giant said Tuesday.

The effort, dubbed “Operation Fulfilled Action,” aims to protect American consumers by stopping illicit copycat goods from arriving. Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit will lead the charge, with additional help coming from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and carrier DHL.

“The IPR Center plays a critical role in securing the global supply chain to protect the health and safety of the American public,” IPR Center director Steve Francis said in a prepared statement. “However, our efforts are increased with partners like Amazon to identify, interdict and investigate individuals, companies and criminal organizations engaging in the illegal importation of counterfeit products.”

According to Francis, the joint operation is the government’s latest public-private initiative “that brings one step closer to border security.”

Amazon has worked with IPR Center before, so the relationship isn’t entirely new. But Operation Fulfilled Action offers more structure and space to share data — which is crucial, considering how fakes can proliferate online across multiple sellers and storefronts.

The task force expects that its data analysis will drive targeted investigations, or expand them as needed, to keep counterfeit goods from infiltrating the U.S. supply chain and prosecute bad actors to the fullest extend of the law.

“Amazon conducts investigations and sidelines inventory if we suspect a product may be counterfeit, ensuring our customers are protected,” Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s vice president of customer trust and partner support, explained. “But we also know that counterfeiters don’t just attempt to offer their wares in one store, they attempt to offer them in multiple places.”

On its own platform, Amazon has been locked in a protracted battle to banish counterfeits in its marketplace, since the company admitted to investors in early 2019 that it could be held liable. The Trump administration has signaled its intention to make it a reality.

Since then, the company has directed hundreds of millions of dollars, as well as thousands of workers, at the problem. Numerous Amazon programs and features have been dedicated to seller vetting, machine learning and brand protection, including Project Zero, Brand Registry and Transparency.

But the tactics employed by shady dealers also appear to be evolving. Earlier in November, Amazon filed new lawsuits alleging that bad actors have taken to social media channels like Instagram and TikTok to hype phony luxury goods and drive business.

Operation FulFilled Action could make a difference, and not just on Amazon.

The combined intelligence from Amazon, the IPR Center and other agencies could “stop counterfeits at the border, regardless of where bad actors were intending to offer them,” Mehta added.

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