Designed to weed out counterfeits on Amazon.com, Project Zero was initially invite-only. Now open to all trademark holders it automatically detects and removes counterfeited products and allows brands to remove counterfeit products on their own. Here’s what you need to know about taking advantage of Project Zero.

Jennifer Sayroo, senior account supervisor, Adlucent

Jennifer Sayroo, senior account supervisor, Adlucent

The biggest blessing, and sometimes curse, of Amazon is that the ecommerce giant allows anyone to sell products on the site. This ability has led to counterfeiting issues in the past, which poses a challenge for retailers and brands whose proprietary style is their biggest draw.

To address this issue, Amazon rolled out Project Zero, a service that provides a formal means by which retailers can protect their brand. Originally, Project Zero was invite-only, but it is now an open offering that automatically detects and removes counterfeited products and allows brands to remove counterfeit products on their own.

Amazon’s problems with counterfeiting

The fact that Amazon allows anyone to place products on the site has created a prime opportunity for honest businesspeople, along with not-so-honest counterfeiters. For example, Apple has stated that 90% of the “official” iPhone chargers sold on the site are fakes. But counterfeiting is not just a challenge for large retailers; it is a problem faced by any brand big enough to have a reputable name.

Project Zero now helps brands remove infringing products independently, without communicating back and forth with Amazon.

One of the most severe dangers in counterfeiting is the hit to a brand’s reputation that comes from unhappy customers leaving bad reviews. Poor ratings can also lead to decreased sales and ultimately leave a lasting impression on the bottom line.

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While proper reputation management can help alleviate this problem by encouraging happy customers to provide good reviews, brands need to embrace more formal strategies to fight back against counterfeiters.

Project Zero seeks to address the counterfeiting backlash

Before Amazon Project Zero, brands had to contact Amazon directly to ask the company to step in on their behalf. This process was long and often not satisfactorily resolved. Project Zero now helps brands remove infringing products independently, without communicating back and forth with Amazon.

Since its launch as an invite-only service, Project Zero’s self-service removal tool has empowered brands to protect their names. Now that Project Zero is open for universal use, it is expected to make an even greater impact.

Amazon Project Zero features the following:

Automated protections

Amazon’s machine-learning-powered automated protections continuously scan the site and proactively remove suspected counterfeits. Brands who use Project Zero submit trademarks, logos and other proprietary data to Amazon, which Project Zero then uses to automatically detect malicious products.

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The great thing about this feature is that it doesn’t require any effort on behalf of the brand, reducing the time brands need to spend hunting down imposters.

Self-service counterfeit removal

When a brand does come across a product masquerading as an original, the brand owner can remove the offending product on their own, without requiring support from Amazon. Amazon uses the self-service tool to build its data, strengthen the automated protections in the future.

Product serialization

Brands using Project Zero apply a unique serial code on every product manufactured and sold on Amazon, which allows Amazon to scan and confirm the authenticity of each product that is serialized as it is prepared for fulfillment.

Project Zero isn’t free

While the majority of Project Zero is free to brands, it is not entirely complimentary. Both the automated protections and self-service counterfeit removal features are free to participants, but the product serialization feature costs a small amount per product. While Amazon doesn’t provide a fee publicly, third-party reports estimate pricing at $0.01 to $0.05 per product.

How retailers can get started with Project Zero

While Amazon no longer requires brands to be invited to Project Zero, there is some work to do to get started. Most of these requirements are fairly straightforward.

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  1. Submitters must be the legal owner of the brand with a trademark they wish to protect.
  2. Submitters must register their brand with Amazon’s Brand Registry.
  3. Submitters must have submitted a potential infringement to Amazon in the past 5 months and have a 90% acceptance rate on those submissions.

Project Zero gets brands closer to marketplace success

Amazon is the largest online retailer in the world and, as such, it inspires a variety of challenges. However, the reward of tackling these problems is vast; Amazon provides access to a large volume of dedicated, interested shoppers. Project Zero finally provides a chance for every brand to protect their proprietary products from counterfeiting and truly achieve marketplace success.

Adlucent is a digital marketing agency based in Austin, Texas.

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