International Amazon Websites Listed on US Infamous Markets for Counterfeit Items

Peter Endig | AFP | Getty Images

A handful of Amazon’s overseas websites have been added to the US government’s annual “Notorious Markets” list due to concerns that they may host counterfeit goods.

The USTR (United States Trade Representative) office released its review of the infamous markets in 2020 on Thursday. The list includes e-commerce websites and companies that are believed to facilitate the sale of counterfeit goods, and to commit intellectual property violations or piracy.

Amazon websites in the UK, Germany, Spain, France and Italy were named in the report. Complainants against the overseas websites alleged that the process of removing counterfeit products from Amazon is slow, even for companies participating in its trademark protection programs. They also argued that Amazon does not thoroughly scrutinize third-party sellers in its market or make it clear to brands and consumers “who is selling the goods”.

Amazon denied the sales agent’s report, which did not include Amazon’s US website, citing its extensive programs and tools designed to stop counterfeiters.

“Amazon’s inclusion in this report is a continuation of a personal revenge against Amazon and nothing more than a desperate stunt in the last days of this administration,” an Amazon spokesman told CNBC in a statement. “Amazon is doing more against counterfeiting than any other private organization known to us.”

USTR officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos during his four-year tenure. Bezos owns the Washington Post, which Trump has criticized for its unfavorable reporting on his administration. Amazon has also claimed it did not win a Pentagon cloud computing deal that could be worth up to $ 10 billion due to attacks by Trump against the company and Bezos.

Amazon websites were first added to the USTR’s Notorious Markets list in 2019. The American Apparel & Footwear Association asked the sales representative in 2018 to add some Amazon websites to the list.

In addition to Amazon, the other companies featured on the list include Chinese e-commerce website Pinduoduo, South American e-commerce company Mercadolibre, and file-sharing website The Pirate Bay.

Amazon has stepped up its counterfeit containment efforts as the third-party market has grown. The marketplace now accounts for more than half of the company’s total revenue and is home to millions of third-party providers.

While it continues to be an important component of Amazon’s business, the market has also faced a number of issues related to the sale of counterfeit, unsafe, and expired goods. In 2019, Amazon started mentioning counterfeit products as a risk factor in its annual filing.

The company has prosecuted counterfeiters in court, launched various programs to search for and detect sales of counterfeit goods, and in June set up the Counterfeit Crime Division, composed of former federal attorneys, investigators, and data analysts, to break down the website for fraudulent activity.

As a result of this and other efforts, 99.9% of the pages viewed by customers on the site never had a valid forgery report, the spokesman said.

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