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Many consumers never even realize that counterfeit goods exist on Amazon. But once CEO Jeff Bezos admits things people start to take notice. Counterfeiting has reached a high point on the platform and the backlash Amazon faces from both brands and consumers has called them to action. That’s why Amazon Project Zero has been rolled out.

Amazon faces a constant battle to keep large consumer brands and customers happy. Their focus is largely on customer experience and making them happy. And purchasing a counterfeit product does not help that.

Project Zero is also a way for Amazon to put large brands worries to rest by stepping out counterfeit enforcement. The program presents a unique opportunity to police the marketplace. But what exactly is it and how will it work?


What is Amazon Project Zero?


Amazon Project Zero is a response from Amazon to take a more aggressive approach in fighting counterfeit products. The retail giant has faced multiple lawsuits from brands saying that Amazon does not do enough to fight the problem.

Amazon openly admits now that it does have a counterfeit problem and it may be unable to prevent every seller from selling counterfeit items on the marketplace. The counterfeit issue is creating a real image problem for Amazon – and even poor customer experiences. With a focus on the customer first, Amazon created the new program and tools to help prevent that from happening in the future.

Project Zero helps empower brands to more effectively protect their intellectual property (IP). That empowerment combined with Amazon’s technology create a powerful approach to fighting counterfeits.


How Amazon Project Zero Could Stop Counterfeits on Amazon


This is an interesting development from the eCommerce giant. Empowering and incentivizing brands to remove the counterfeit goods could leave to a significant decrease in occurrences. Amazon Project Zero will also streamline the way that these infringements are currently handled on Amazon – which could also improve customer experience.

The tools that Amazon is rolling out will reduce the likelihood of brands being infringed. However, the eligibility for the program and certain shorting comings mean that the issue is unlikely to be fully solved. This solution makes the largest brands happy and prevents lawsuits, but does little to protect smaller brands from having their ripped off.


Project Zero Gives You Access to Powerful Tools


There are three main tools that Project Zero rolls out to fight counterfeit products: Automated Protections; Counterfeit Removal tool, and; Product Serialization. The goal is for Amazon to combine its technology with brands’ desire to protect IP by using the tools.


Automated Protections

Amazon is implementing machine learning tools to help prevent brands. Each brand will provide logos, trademarks and additional data about products and the brand to Amazon. Those will then be fed into the machine learning tool which will scan more than 5 billion product listings daily. The tech will find suspected counterfeits and remove them from the platform. Amazon claims that this stops 100x more counterfeit products than their existing process.


Counterfeit Removal Tool


Brands will also have the ability to remove suspected counterfeit listings themselves – removing delays while Amazon investigates each reported violation. A counterfeit listing gives brands incredible control to just remove listings from the platform. This is a powerful tool for combating fake products, but certainly brings some concerns about whether the tool can or will be abused.


Product Serialization


Project Zero will also give brands the option to introduce product serialization into Amazon. This will allow Amazon to scan and confirm authenticity of each product. Amazon will cross-reference the serial numbers with every product that is sold on the platform to confirm authenticity. This will help prevent counterfeit products from reaching the customer – however there is an additional cost for this feature.

Related content: Protect Your Sales Using Brand Gating on Amazon

Why Project Zero on Amazon May Not Work


The idea behind Amazon Project Zero is great. However, there are significant obstacles to the program and how it works. It may help remove a large number of counterfeit products on Amazon but it has limitations that may prevent it from working fully.




The onus for managing Project Zero is still on the brands. Amazon is not doing the enforcement themselves. Amazon could be trying to say that they are no responsible for the majority of enforcement by pushing the reporting to the brand owners. This increases the amount of work each brand needs to do specifically to monitor its intellectual property infringements.


Limited Scope


The program is only set to be available to participants of Amazon’s Brand Registry. Small brands like private label sellers who may not have trademarks are unable to enroll in Brand Registry meaning they are also going to be excluded from Project Zero.


Loop Holes


Amazon Project Zero will still not resolve many of the existing loop holes that create catalog management nightmares. Sellers can still create duplicate listings utilizing fake UPCs or different ASINs to list the product separately from yours. They could also potentially take patented intellectual property, utilize a different brand name and go on selling. There are still many work arounds that unscrupulous sellers and manufacturers will find.


Increased Cost


Enrolling in the program creates additional costs that the brands must pay for. Product serialization costs $0.01-$0.05 per unit and there will also be an increased cost due to changes in manufacturing.


How to Join Project Zero


Currently, you need to be invited to join the program. It has not been rolled out on a platform wide basis. To be considered for the program, you need to have government registered trademarks and currently be part of the Amazon Brand Registry program. Amazon has created a waitlist that brands who are interested in participating can join.

There is no cost to join project Zero. Utilizing certain features will incur charges however. As mentioned before, utilizing the product serialization tool will have a cost between $0.01-$0.05 per product.


How Will Amazon Project Zero Do?


It is far too early in the game to know exactly what the success of Project Zero will be. It appears that the tools that have been created to manage counterfeits are seeing initial success from Amazon’s reports.

However, the larger issue is that this does not cover every product on the website. Amazon is essentially copping out by admitting they may be unable to prevent all counterfeits from being sold on the platform. Their efforts are going to be focused on pleasing the larger brands with the financial resources to legally challenge them.

We believe that the end result will be most small brands and private labels without the financial resources will still be battling counterfeit goods on the platform. Investing in intellectual property like trademarks will almost become a necessity to sell on the platform in the future.

Amazon Project Zero has a lot of promise and feigns a commitment to removing counterfeit goods. It is just that the priority is to serve large brand names versus individual sellers.

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