Amazon's Project Zero lets brands take down counterfeits

Up until now, brands could only flag potential counterfeits for Amazon to review

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Amazon on Thursday announced a new program called Project Zero, which gives brands the ability to remove counterfeit listings themselves. For years, brands have complained about the large number of counterfeits sold on the Amazon marketplace. But up until now, brands could only flag potential counterfeits for Amazon to review and remove.

Brands enlisted in Project Zero will get access to a self-service tool to remove alleged counterfeits. Removed listings will, in turn, feed into the machine learning models that Amazon is using to continuously scan its marketplace and proactively remove suspected counterfeits. Amazon said in a blog post that its automated protections proactively stop 100 times more suspected counterfeit products than what it reactively removes based on reports from brands.

In addition to giving brands self-service tools for removing listings, Amazon is offering a product serialization service. This gives businesses a unique code for every unit manufactured and sold on Amazon. This will help Amazon confirm the authenticity of every product sold under a specific brand name.

Project Zero is currently invite-only. Some of the brands participating so far include Vera Bradley, Thunderworks and Kenu.

Last year, Amazon and Vera Bradley jointly filed three lawsuits in federal court against sellers allegedly peddling counterfeit Vera Bradley handbags on Amazon. The e-commerce giant also filed a lawsuit with OtterBox against alleged counterfeiters.

In 2016, Apple filed a suit against a US firm for selling fake Apple-branded power adapters and cables on Amazon. The iPhone maker claimed that 90 percent of Apple products it bought on Amazon were counterfeit. That same year Birkenstock decided to stop letting third-party merchants to sell its sandals on the site because of the counterfeit problem.