Amazon seizes seven million counterfeit products in 2023

E-commerce giant’s report shows number of fake products jumped by a million, as it increasingly leans on AI to detect fakes

Amazon identified, seized and disposed of 7 million counterfeit goods in 2023 Shutterstock

Amazon identified and disposed of more than 7 million counterfeit products worldwide in 2023, according to its fourth brand protection report, a rise of one million compared to the previous year.

The report highlighted that since 2020, there has been a 30% decrease in infringement notices submitted by brands despite a rise in the overall number of products available.

It also said it stopped more than 700,000 attempts by “bad actors” from creating new selling accounts in 2023, down from 800,000 attempts in 2022. Amazon said it used document forgery detection and advanced image and video verification to quickly confirm the authenticity of identity documents.

The e-commerce giant is putting some of these successes down to using the latest advances in large language models (LLMs) which, it noted, “dramatically improved” its ability to identify and remove infringing products from the store and stay ahead of the latest tactics used by bad actors.

LLMs helps to detect infringements where logos are purposefully manipulated in an attempt to evade detection systems.

The retail behemoth has put considerable effort into fighting fakes, investing more than $1.2bn and employing more than 15,000 people, including machine learning scientists, software developers and expert investigators.

Turning to enforcement, since Amazon launched its Counterfeit Crime Unit in 2020 it has pursued more than 21,000 bad actors through litigation and criminal referrals to law enforcement, according to the report. It has been involved in cross border collaboration with brands and Chinese law enforcement, which, it stated, led to 50 successful raids with more than 100 bad actors revealed. 

In its fight against counterfeits, Amazon partners with brands enrolled in its free Brand Registry programme to help it identify more complex infringements using trademarks and images provided by brands directly. One such partner is electronics company Philips, whose electronic toothbrush heads are among the myriad of fake products seized in raids in the UK last year.

Philips head of trademark and design, Hannie van Iersel, said the collaboration between Amazon’s unit, the London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) and Philips had been “instrumental to protect our customers from counterfeit electric-toothbrush heads”. The successful raid emphasised the “importance of collaboration between companies and law enforcement to combat counterfeiting and uphold our commitment to improve people’s health and well-being through meaningful innovation”.

In 2023 Amazon bolstered its collaboration with the US Patent and Trademark Office and began leveraging a combination of data and signals to identify sanctioned trademarks, which it said helped to better detect bad actors. 

It also pointed out that its Patent Evaluation Express tool, which invites a neutral third-party expert to evaluate whether a product has infringed a patent, reduces the time it takes to obtain a decision to an average of 30 days. This compares to the two years it takes just to get to trial in a typical US patent lawsuit.

Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s vice president, worldwide selling partner services, said: “While we believe we have made a great deal of progress, we remain committed to continued innovation and will not rest until we drive counterfeits to zero.”

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