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Amazon ups its anti-counterfeit game

Amazon ups its anti-counterfeit game
Amazon's new tools let sellers remove knockoff listings from the site and help prevent individual counterfeit items from being shipped out. (Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

Amazon.com Inc. has been awash in counterfeit products for years — and sometimes, sellers allege, those crude copycats are even mixed in with the inventory of real goods and sent to customers who ordered the real thing. Now the company has announced tools that let sellers remove knockoff listings from the site and help prevent individual counterfeit items from being shipped out.

To speed the removal process, Amazon said that it’s now allowing some companies to remove listings for other sellers’ counterfeit goods. Previously the companies had to report the fakes and wait for Amazon to investigate before taking action.

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Amazon also said it has created unique serial codes that can be placed on products during the manufacturing process, which can then be monitored by Amazon so that knockoffs could be removed from the delivery chain before they’re shipped to customers who ordered the genuine item.

That step appears to respond to concerns by sellers like Jon Fawcett, whose company, Fuse Chicken, makes durable cellphone cables. Fawcett has said he noticed his customer reviews suddenly plunge — and then ordered some of his own products from Amazon and received counterfeits.

“That’s when I recognized how big the problem was,” Fawcett said last year. Products were “being thrown into a single bin in Amazon’s warehouse, real and fake.”

Amazon, in court filings, denied mixing knockoff Fuse Chicken products with genuine ones.

On Thursday, Amazon said it has also been testing automated technology that it said can prevent 100 times the number of counterfeit products on its site by scanning logos, trademarks and other key data. The company said it’s now scanning more than 5 billion products daily for telltale signs of counterfeiting.

“Our aim is that customers always receive authentic goods when shopping on Amazon,” Amazon executive Dharmesh Mehta said in a blog post.

Amazon announced the anti-counterfeit program, called Project Zero, on its blog Thursday. The project is currently invitation-only, but the Seattle company said it’s working to add more brands quickly.

Pierson is a Times staff writer.

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