It must be a mountain of junk and shredders.

Every 15 seconds a counterfeit product is found in Amazon's logistics centers somewhere in the world.

Such items are routinely confiscated and then destroyed before they can be released to customers.

It happened a total of two million times last year, as a brand protection report published by Amazon on Monday shows.

The group is publishing such an overview for the first time.

The fight of the online marketplaces against inferior, unsafe and counterfeit products is like wrestling with the many-headed Hydra.

According to Greek mythology, the monster always grows two heads if one is cut off.


The online boom in the corona crisis is still helping the perpetrators.

"The pandemic attracted malicious actors who tried to take advantage of the situation," writes Dharmesh Metha, Amazon's top fighter against fraud.

But he claims to be able to successfully counter the flood of fraudsters: "Despite their attempts, we have continued to make great progress in reducing counterfeiting in our business to zero." 10,000 employees worldwide are busy with this task, 700 Million dollars (575 million euros) have been invested in 2020 alone.

As addressees of such success reports, Amazon and other digital corporations should not only have the general buyer audience in mind, but also politics.

The pressure is growing worldwide to curb the influence of the tech giants and to hold them accountable - in terms of consumer protection, but also in terms of their market power.


In the US, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee formally approved a report in mid-April that formally accused Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple of systematically eliminating smaller competitors - which the companies deny.

In Brussels and Berlin, politicians are trying to put the industry on the curb with new regulations, to oblige companies to better consumer protection and to give users more rights.

Towards the end of last year, the EU Commission presented a package with the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA), a kind of new constitution for the digital giants to form in Europe.

In addition to Amazon, large Internet companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook or Airbnb would be affected.

At the same time, experts are discussing which German authority should monitor compliance with the provisions, such as the Federal Cartel Office or the Federal Network Agency.

Trading platforms also earn money from counterfeiting


For critics, the proposed tightening of trademark protection is not enough.

For example, the draft for the DSA does not envisage any active duty of inspection on the part of the platform operator, recently criticized the action group against product and brand piracy, behind which, in addition to the brand association, the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) and the Federal Association of German Industry (BDI) stand.

"The trading platforms earn - albeit unintentionally - from the sale of the counterfeits," criticized the working group chairman Volker Bartels.

However, it should not be the sole responsibility of the injured party to “ensure compliance with the law by repeatedly reporting the same illegal offers to the trading platforms”.

A stronger engagement of the platforms in the fight against product and brand piracy is also an important contribution to consumer protection.

With its report on trademark protection, Amazon counteracts such allegations - at least as far as its own company is concerned.

According to its own information, the group uses a multi-level system to combat counterfeiting, in which the destruction of fraudulent items is only the last resort.

The main task of the internal security systems is rather to prevent fraudulent products from entering the digital marketplace in the first place.

The company's verification processes prevented a total of six million attempts to set up fraudulent seller accounts before a product even went on sale.

Another number is an indication of a permanent onslaught of product pirates: According to Amazon, only six percent of attempted registrations with a retailer account are successful, 94 percent fail.

However, this section also contains attempts to terminate registration for technical reasons.

Amazon prides itself on the fact that there are customer complaints about counterfeits for less than one per mille of the items sold.

This is prevented, among other things, by the multi-step verification of merchant accounts.

Among other things, you work with a comparison with data sets at authorities and payment service providers, but also with ID checks in video chats and with algorithms that check plausibility.

"If we identify fraudsters, we immediately close the account, withhold funds and investigate whether this new information suspects other linked accounts," the company said.

In addition, it will be checked whether civil or criminal prosecution is an option.

Fraudsters would be reported to law enforcement agencies.


Amazon does not disclose which countries or product groups are mainly affected by counterfeiting activities.

Despite some efforts by the Chinese authorities to better protect intellectual property, China is still regarded as a stronghold for product pirates.

At the recently awarded Plagiarius 2021 controversial prize, two of the top three products came from China, including a chainsaw and a brake bleeding device for cars.

Source: WORLD infographic

Although they look similar to the originals in every detail, they show considerable deficiencies in terms of product safety.

Consumers are familiar with the phenomenon of product counterfeiting even with everyday objects.

In surveys, more than half of consumers expect that they will occasionally be offered counterfeit glasses, accessories, watches, jewelry and clothing.

In view of the growing online trade, the customs authorities can only control a fraction of the goods.

Last year they confiscated products worth almost 240 million euros, a negligible amount compared to the German import volume of 1,025 billion euros last year.

In addition to Amazon, other digital product platforms such as Ebay or Zalando are also taking action against the brand counterfeiters.

But they seem to manage time and again to undermine new methods of combating them.

"As we continue to improve the maturity of our programs, we unfortunately have to discover that counterfeiters are also working to refine their abusive activities," the Amazon report reads: "This is an escalating battle." is far from certain.

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