Counterfeits trade is a rising problem that e-commerce platforms and sellers are relentlessly fighting against. A study from 2019 showed that fake goods trading takes 3.3% of the world trade. An even more devastating fact is that the number is rising.
The typical go-to scenario for dealing with counterfeits is: the platform gets a complaint. The product gets removed. The fake item resurfaces yet again. This never-ending cycle might get to an end (or regular interruptions), as Amazon has released their counterfeit-fighting tool.
Amazon sellers around the world, be alert – the newest game-changing program is here. That program is Amazon Project Zero.
Amazon Project Zero is a new technology that aims to reduce the number of counterfeit listings on Amazon. The counterfeits resort to advanced technologies to create a seemingly identical copy. With the “fight fire with fire” thought in mind, Amazon applied innovative technology to unmask fake goods.
What Is Amazon Project Zero?
Project Zero is Amazon’s bold response to counterfeits on this e-commerce platform. It is a self-service tool for brands that can help them distinguish their original products from dupes.
The messaging of the program clarifies the project’s name, as Amazon shared that the purpose of the project is “Empowering brands to drive counterfeits to zero.”
Amazon Program Zero “saw the light of day” in February 2019. One of the reasons behind Amazon’s increased efforts in fighting counterfeits is a series of lawsuits from online sellers. They were openly dissatisfied (and armed with lawsuits) with how Amazon deals with counterfeits products on the platform.
When the program was first launched, it was available to Amazon online sellers in the following countries:
- The U.S.
In August 2020, the company launched Amazon Project Zero in seven new countries. Those countries include:
- Saudi Arabia
- the United Arab Emirates
In addition to Project Zero, Amazon also offers the following suite of tools against counterfeits:
Amazon’s consistent innovation in the “stop the fake goods” mission is promising and reassuring. The further development and expansion of the project are yet to be seen. For now, Project Zero still needs to prove itself to online sellers who have put their faith in this project.
The Key Components of Amazon Project Zero
Project Zero takes pride in three anti-counterfeit components. Let see what they are and how they can help with detecting counterfeits.
1. Automated Protections
The automated protections component is powered by machine learning. Its purpose is to scan the online stores, find counterfeit suspects, and remove them. Over 5 billion listings are scanned daily and suspected counterfeits are proactively removed.
In the scanning process, this tool considers brand data such as the logo, trademarks, and other characteristics that signal the brand’s credibility.
Automated protections notably speed up detection and removal of counterfeits. The number of counterfeits will drastically lessen if we compare this automated process to reactively removing the fake good based on brand appeals.
2. Self-Service Counterfeit Removal
Self-service counterfeit removal is focused on streamlining a different aspect of the battle against counterfeits. Instead of reporting to Amazon potential fake good sellers and waiting for an investigation to end, brands can remove counterfeit listings themselves. The anti-counterfeiting procedure, therefore, turns from a several-day-long hassle into a quick and easy process.
The new self-service tool presents a power-sharing deal between Amazon and their sellers. Brands will have the freedom to control the listings and assist Amazon in removing counterfeits.
The information on banned listings will contribute to automated protections efforts by helping this tool to better detect and catch counterfeit listings.
3. Product Serialization
This is the last unique component of Project Zero. Product serialization allows sellers to register their products and attach a code to the products. Amazon can then scan the code and confirm the credibility of each purchased product that has the code.
The product serialization helps with protecting the sellers’ intellectual property.
The idea behind product serialization service is to detect and stop counterfeits before they reach the customers. The data from this service will also be fed to the automated protections system.
As you can tell, the three components work together to stop counterfeits, and they also gather the information that will improve these services. With time and increased collection of data, the innovative technology behind this project will become more precise and effective.
In terms of cost, the enrollment in Project Zero and the use of automated protections and self-service counterfeit removal tools are free. However, if you want to use the product serialization service, the cost is between $0.01 and $0.05 per product. The price is determined based on the store’s volume.
The product serialization isn’t obligatory for Project Zero members. Brands can opt to use free tools only. If a brand wants to ensure that their intellectual property isn’t exploited, they won’t mind making the investment.
Who Can Join Amazon Project Zero?
For now, getting into Amazon Project Zero is a privilege. Only brands who get an invitation from Amazon can join. Some of the brands that said “yes” to Amazon Project Zero are Vera Bradley, Kenu, Chom Chom Roller, and Thunderworks.
Mark Dely, the chief legal and administrator officer at Vera Bradley explained why their company puts its faith in this project. “Project Zero, with its automated protections and the self-service removal of counterfeit products, is a significant development that will help ensure our customers receive authentic Vera Bradley products from Amazon,”said Dely.
It is still unknown how many brands will receive the invitation or when the project’s reach will expand. The overall goal is to make Project Zero available to every certified seller on the platform. Therefore, the current exclusivity should be reserved for the testing phase.
To even become an eligible candidate for Project Zero Amazon, a brand must fulfill certain conditions. These conditions are:
- Brands must have a registered-trademark.
- Brands must be enrolled in Brand Registry.
Amazon’s Brand Registry is a service that helps with protecting the trademark holders’ IPs. The service has additional useful features such as customizing product listings, better control over product listings, accelerated ad approval, advanced search options, and other technological features.
If you are interested in Project Zero Amazon, here are the necessary step you should take right now to start the application process:
Even if you are still dubious about Project Zero, don’t miss out on registering your brand (if you haven’t already). Why is this important? Because your brand will get a trademark that will protect you from being confused with counterfeit – potential trouble that can arise from Project Zero.
For more information on eligibility requirements, you can go to Amazon’s Project Zero FAQ.
The Drawbacks of Amazon Project Zero
Despite its impressive features and capabilities, Project Zero isn’t flawless. No one can undermine the usefulness of Amazon’s bold attack on fake goods traders. However, brands should be aware of the limitations that come with this program.
“The initiative such as Project Zero is what many brands have hoped for. As the first of its kind, it must come with some flaws. What sellers must keep in mind is that this is only the beginning. We can expect improvements with time and newfound information”shared Linda Ferguson, the CEO of Subjecto and product copywriter.
Before we finalize the story of Project Zero, let’s reflect on its limitations:
- Only brands with trademarks can register in Amazon Brand Registry and get the status of a potential candidate for Project Zero. Brands without trademarks are, therefore, completely ruled out from the project.
- Counterfeit that don’t use brand owner’s ASINs won’t be detected. If a counterfeit uses separate Amazon Standard Identification Numbers (ASINs) and doesn’t make explicit reference to a brand’s trademarks, they won’t be detected by the tool.
- Project Zero only focuses on counterfeits. It does nothing to prevent issues such as trademark misuse or other intellectual property problems that sellers can face.
- Product serialization can be a costly solution for larger brands. If a large brand uses multiple outlets for selling products and offers lower prices, the serialization can bear a notable cost.
- Brands take on more responsibility. Amazon has lifted the burden on counterfeits removal from their back and now brands need to get more involved in this process. While it is useful that a brand can streamline the removal of counterfeits, the monitoring of infringements is now mostly up to them.
Project Zero is Amazon’s answer to the growing number of counterfeits as well as the growing number of complaints. While ending the fake goods trading on Amazon can’t happen overnight, Project Zero is a big step forward to achieving a counterfeit-free e-commerce platform.
Amazon’s resolution to turn to advanced technology is a progressive attack on infringements. This kind of innovation is what brands need in this technology-driven world. Since the story of Project Zero is yet to unravel, we are to patiently wait for its development and positive outcomes.