Amazon’s Counterfeit Problem Is Worsening, Says AAFA — Here’s How the Group Is Taking Action

The American Apparel and Footwear Association is taking aim at Amazon.

In a letter addressed to the United States Trade Representative, the trade group — representing more than 1,000 brands across the fashion industry — wrote that two more Amazon sites should be added to its yearly list of “Notorious Markets,” which pinpoints the businesses that facilitate trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy.

The AAFA last year had recommended the USTR add the Amazon websites in Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom to the Notorious Markets list. This time around, the organization is asking the USTR to include Amazon marketplaces in France and India. (AAFA has so far been unsuccessful in getting Amazon’s various international sites added to the USTR list.)

Overall, eight online markets (including China’s WeChat platform and the U.S.-based Wanelo) as well as 130 physical stores were identified this year by AAFA member companies as participating in the sale of counterfeit goods.

“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,” said AAFA president and CEO Rick Helfenbein.

“While we are happy to have seen increased engagement with Amazon on brand protection issues during the past year,” he added, “that engagement regrettably has not translated into a discernible decrease in counterfeits of our members’ products on Amazon’s marketplaces.”

The e-commerce behemoth is no stranger to accusations surrounding the sale of knockoffs. As it continues to expand, Amazon has been increasingly reliant on third-party sellers to meet demand, with more than half of its product sales hailing from such merchants, over which the Seattle-based company lacks full control.

In recent months, however, Amazon has worked toward cracking down on fakes, launching in February its Project Zero program that drives down counterfeit sales with the use of an automated scanning tool and product serialization service, which helps verify the authenticity of a purchase. (Legally, the retailer is not responsible for third-party counterfeits.)

Moreover, a federal appeals court ruled in July that Amazon can be held accountable for defective goods sold on its website by third-party merchants.

“Counterfeits affect more than just lost sales and brand reputation, they also expose consumers to a range of product safety issues,” Helfenbein added. “It is essential that worldwide marketplaces take these concerns seriously and implement effective countermeasures to protect consumers and their families.”

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