Amazon pledged to tackle counterfeiting in 2017, but its lax policies are still hurting inventors and small companies, one supplier says. In a blog post, Elevation Lab founder Casey Hopkins wrote that a Chinese manufacturer ripped off its popular under-desk headphone stand, “The Anchor” and is selling it cheap on Amazon and taking all its sales. Worse, he claims that Amazon is effectively abetting such counterfeiters and could do away with it via a simple change.
According to Hopkins, the counterfeit seller “literally reverse engineered it, made steel compression molds, made the logo wrong, used fake 3M adhesive that’s very thin and was die-cut smaller than the top, they used a lower durometer silicone so it flexes more, it has huge mold parting lines, and the packaging is literally photocopied then reprinted (you can tell by the lack of image contrast).”
The result, he says, is that “customers are unknowingly buying crap versions of the product, while both Amazon and the scammers are profiting, and the reputation you’ve built goes down the toilet.” It’s particularly onerous for small businesses, because new sellers pop up constantly and it can take Amazon precious days to remove them.
Customers are unknowingly buying crap versions of the product, while both Amazon and the scammers are profiting, and the reputation you’ve built goes down the toilet.
And yet the fix is simple, Hopkins says. To stop counterfeiting, Amazon established a registry of approved sellers in 2016, aka the “Brand Registry.” All it has to do to help small inventors is add a check box for suppliers that only sell directly to Amazon and don’t use wholesalers. “Anyone else would have have to get approval or high vetting to sell the product,” Hopkins said. On top of that, Amazon needs to increase its Brand Registry team so it can swat away counterfeit scammers more quickly, he believes.
Amazon has been regularly criticized for being too lax on counterfeiters, a problem that has kept the fashion world well away from the site, for instance. Chanel recently won a judgement against counterfeiters, but only after it persisted following a court setback. Smaller companies, though, are ill-equipped to take on expensive lawsuits.
The feds might soon wade into the fray, however. The US Government Accountability Office recently completed an investigation and was able to purchase 47 counterfeit products from Amazon, Walmart and other companies. Senator Orrin Hatch plans to convene a Senate hearing on the issue.