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Amazon still sells counterfeit goods despite efforts to clean up

Amazon still sells counterfeit goods despite efforts to clean up

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Amazon still sells plenty of counterfeit goods even though it’s tried to crack down on fake sellers for years, according to The Guardian. By ordering goods that were listed as legitimate on Amazon, the report uncovered a number of fake items sold by third-party sellers, including a pair of knockoff AirPods that were supposed to be from Apple, used iPhone chargers that were sold as new, counterfeit Kylie Jenner lip gloss, and a fake Supreme x Louis Vuitton iPhone case.

In some cases, Amazon even helped ship counterfeit goods directly to customers, through the Fulfilled by Amazon service. The fake AirPods, for example, were shipped to Amazon and sold with Amazon Prime delivery and drivers. The imitation goods were sold through Amazon’s Marketplace, which accounted for nearly 20 percent of the company’s total revenue in Q1 this year, according to earnings results released last week. After The Guardian contacted Amazon, the tech giant removed five counterfeit goods from being listed on the site and updated the chargers’ product description to note they were used.

Spotting counterfeit goods on Amazon has been a common refrain over the past years. In 2016, Apple filed a lawsuit against a company called Mobile Star that allegedly sold counterfeit Apple chargers through Amazon. Apple said it bought more than 100 iPhones, power adapters, and Lightning cables from Mobile Star through Amazon and found nearly 90 percent of the goods were fakes. The suit is still pending, with Apple fighting Mobile Star in multiple courts in California, Washington state, and New York.

Brands like Birkenstock and Swatch have ditched Amazon

A month before Apple filed the suit in 2016, Amazon launched a Brand Registry that would help legitimate brands claim their identities on the Marketplace and differentiate themselves against fakes. Amazon then revamped the registry in 2017 with more features.

The number of counterfeits on Amazon’s Marketplace has convinced several retailers to ditch the service, including brands like Birkenstock and Swiss watchmaker Swatch. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal last fall, Swatch CEO Nick Hayek cited Amazon’s failure to proactively police its site for counterfeits as a reason their partnership deal fell through. Last week, Hayek elaborated in further comments, comparing Amazon’s fight with Alibaba’s and noting that the Chinese e-commerce company is doing a better job of “fighting actively against fakes,” while “Amazon is not.”

Amazon told The Guardian in a statement: “Amazon investigated and took action on 95 percent of all notices of potential infringement received from Brand Registry within eight hours. With our proactive innovations that learn from the information in Brand Registry, brands in Brand Registry on average are finding and reporting 99 percent fewer suspected infringements than before the launch of Brand Registry.”