Catching counterfeiters, does Amazon’s Project Zero really work?

Amazon Project Zero helps brands keep counterfeiters off their listings – until Amazon suspends it. A brand suspended from Project Zero loses its most powerful tool to protect its intellectual property. And getting Project Zero back after it’s lost can be extremely difficult.

So, what is Project Zero exactly? And why does Amazon sometimes take it away from brands? Keep reading to learn more.


Catching counterfeiters, does Amazon's Project Zero really work?


A Project Zero primer

Project Zero provides an extra level of counterfeit protection for brands selling on Amazon. There are more than 22,000 brands enrolled in Project Zero, which offers both automated and manual methods of removing counterfeit offers on ASINs.

Amazon boasts that it monitors more than 8 billion listing updates every day, looking for potential counterfeits. It automatically removes suspected counterfeits from the Amazon Marketplace – instantly. Amazon claims that more than 99 percent of blocked or removed listings are found by its proactive controls – before brands even have time to find and report them. These listings are suspected of being fraudulent, infringing, counterfeit or abusive.

In addition, brands with Amazon Project Zero access can immediately remove counterfeit listings without having to open a case. Just click on the offending offer in the Amazon Project Zero reporting tool, and it’s instantly taken down.

Getting approved for Amazon Project Zero

The ability to instantaneously remove counterfeit offers is incredibly valuable for brands. To qualify for Amazon Project Zero, a brand needs to:

  • Be enrolled in Brand Registry, with a registered trademark and a Rights Owner role
  • Submit reports of potential infringement through the Brand Registry Report a Violation tool, with an acceptance rate of 90 percent or better over six months

Once a brand gets enrolled in Amazon Project Zero, it is automatically enrolled in other countries where the brand has a registered trademark enrolled in Brand Registry.

Amazon requires new Project Zero users to go through a training program, and then they monitor to prevent misuse or abuse of their tools. That’s where the trouble comes in.

… And then the suspension

Amazon Project Zero maintains a very high standard to retain reporting privileges. Brands must have a track record of 99 percent accuracy for counterfeit reports. In addition, ASIN takedowns only may be for counterfeit – and not for other forms of intellectual property violations. In other words, sellers and brands may not use Project Zero to remove offers that are problematic because of trademark, patent or copyright violations.

Unfortunately, Amazon is not transparent on that 99 percent metric.

ASIN takedowns only may be for counterfeit – and not for other forms of intellectual property violations. In other words, sellers and brand may not use Project Zero to remove offers that are problematic because of trademark, patent or copyright violations.

When a brand owner reports an offer as counterfeit, the status of the report in the Project Zero interface will typically say “accepted.” That status may never change, and the metric may remain at 100 percent. Then suddenly, a brand owner may find their Project Zero privileges suspended.

At Riverbend Consulting, we have worked with sellers who appear to have lost their Amazon Project Zero privileges because:

  • They used the Project Zero tool to report trademark, inauthentic, patent or copyright violations – instead of only counterfeit products. These other violation types should be raised in Brand Registry’s Report a Violation interface – not via Project Zero.
  • They had one or more Project Zero reports overturned when a seller with authentic products appealed the ASIN takedown successfully.
  • They had one or more Project Zero reports overturned when a seller with counterfeit products gave Amazon fake invoices or other forged “proof” they were selling authentic items.
  • They were attacked by a Black Hat actor, who managed to have their Project Zero and Report a Violation privileges suspended via nefarious actions.
  • They took an action that raised hackles in Amazon Retail, which had their Project Zero and other brand protection tools suspended.

Getting back to Project Zero

When a seller loses their Project Zero privileges, Amazon offers an opportunity to appeal. Amazon asks the brand to prove a negative – that it did not abuse the Project Zero counterfeit removal tool. Needless to say, this is incredibly difficult. And unfortunately, the front-line investigators almost never approve the appeal.

Instead, it’s necessary to escalate the issue internally at Amazon – usually to multiple teams – until the brand finds an open-minded executive who cares about their issues. Oftentimes, when we appeal Project Zero for brands, we are also working to restore all or some of their Brand Registry privileges at the same time.

Are you facing roadblocks and dead ends with Project Zero and Brand Registry? We’re help to help!

Amazon Solved.

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