Brand owners might have heard of Amazon Brand Registry and Amazon Project Zero. Both programmes have been heavily promoted by Amazon to address counterfeiting issues on the platform, but what are they, and how can brand owners make the most use of them?
Following our blog post earlier this year when we briefly discussed Project Zero, this post will offer brand owners a more informed perspective when deciding whether to opt for these services.
What are Amazon Brand Registry and Amazon Project Zero?
Amazon Brand Registry: Simply speaking, brand owners can register their brands and authorised sellers on Amazon Brand Registry. Any sales outside of what is notified to Amazon will be regarded as illegitimate. Brand owners can then report the infringing listings to Amazon, and Amazon can subsequently take them down. This is a standard approach on other platforms such as eBay and Alibaba.
Amazon Project Zero: Project Zero empowers brand owners to autonomously and directly take down counterfeit listings without having to first report them to Amazon. Following an initial launch in the US, in which it was trialled on 3,000+ brands, Project Zero is now available in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Brand owners will also benefit from continuous and automated takedown services, Amazon’s machine learning systems and Amazon’s authenticating process.
To join Brand Registry and Project Zero, brand owners do not need to have Amazon seller accounts. Brand owners will need to register with Brand Registry to join Project Zero. After 6 months’ enrolment , brand owners will need to apply to join a waiting list and then may be invited by Amazon to join the Project Zero.
Is Project Zero Right for my Brand(s)?
Project Zero is undoubtedly a powerful tool for brand owners. However, brand owners must remain diligent when using Project Zero.
Brand owners must maintain a high enforcement accuracy rate (at least 90%) in order to keep access to the service. Project Zero only applies to counterfeit product and not to other instances of intellectual property infringement (e.g. trade mark or copyright infringement). As such, “grey goods”, (i.e. authentic items that are made available by the brand owners in one market e.g. USA) are not covered. Meanwhile, brand owners must either undertake a test purchase to confirm that the item is a counterfeit or be sure that the item is a counterfeit e.g. because it simply does not manufacture a certain type of product.
Where all of your brands and Intellectual Property rights are owned by a shell company which does not have a management team, the “real” company (i.e. the trading company that suffered the actual damage) will not be able to use Project Zero because they are not legal owners. This aspect further limits brand owners’ ability in acting swiftly to protect their brands.
What‘s the Best Solution?
For world-renowned brands and those with an existing online brand enforcement programme in place, Project Zero is a sophisticated addition to their anti-counterfeiting toolkit. For brands just starting out in this space, Amazon Brand Registry is a useful starting point for a brand protection programme, enabling brand owners to use image-matching functions to locate listings selling infringing products and to file takedowns. Amazon has also made the following statements regarding the effectiveness of their Brand Registry:
· over 1 million bad actor accounts stopped before they published a single listing for sale;
· over 3 billion suspected bad listings removed before they were published on Amazon
· over 99.9% of product pages have not received a notice of potential counterfeit infringement
· 99% fewer suspected infringements being reported per brand as compared with before the launch of brand registry
As well as Amazon’s own initiatives, third party online watching and enforcement software can be added that monitors multiple marketplace platforms. Regardless of budget or the issues faced, it is clear that there has never been a better time for brand owners to get involved in the fightback against fakes.