As online shopping continues to explode worldwide so does counterfeits sold in direct competition with honest retailers. The transnational nature of eCommerce makes it quite vulnerable to this problem. eCommerce is at the mercy of the global supply chain which has been battling this issue long before eCommerce. Regulators in North America and Europe have long maintained that eCommerce websites are not liable for 3rd party copyright infringement. Global regulatory alignment in this regard has proven insufficient for customers, retailers trading own brand or third party merchandise. Detection or mitigatory actions require resources and coordination capacity that SMBs simply lack. It is an open secret that for years eCommerce has been marred by counterfeits meaning companies have to find a way to protect themselves.
It is harder to verify the authenticity of products purchased online. Unlike traditional brick and mortar stores, that obtain products directly from manufacturers or authorized dealers. Some online stores source goods from unaffiliated independent vendors making verification harder. The lockdown means more people are online including those who previously did not shop online. Those less savvy online shoppers tend to be more vulnerable online than others.
Moreover, even Amazon has not been able to escape the scourge of counterfeit products. Just in April, the eCommerce giant won a copyright infringement suit in the European Union Court of Justice against Coty Germany. The allegations are storing and selling counterfeit Davidoff perfume. The court stated that they were merely providing a technical platform. This is a big issue in the global cosmetics and beauty industry. These products are applied to the skin and can be potentially harmful. To mitigate these issues, there are alliances of strange bedfellows with Cosmetic corporations, law enforcement investigators, bloggers and social media influencers coming together.
In late March, the company also faced a copyright infringement lawsuit by Baltimore Ravens, Lamar Jackson. This likely would not be the last. The fact remains that Amazon has not been able to address this problem in effective ways. In June, Amazon launched the Counterfeit Crimes Unit to tackle this specific problem. Last year, over half a billion invested in combating counterfeit products. Furthermore, they have been forced to act as a lack of trust in the brand is ultimately bad for Amazon’s bottom line.
As global stakeholders need to collaborate in eCommerce to combat counterfeits online, it does have its limitations. Fortunately, there are some technological solutions like SnapDragon. This Software designed by San Diego based Qualcomm makes it easier to monitor and detect fake goods online. It enables image and word search which identify infringements in a matter of hours or days. The rightful authorities are notified. Another problem can arise. Online or technological approaches are seen as useless if not backed with offline enforcement. With the transnational scale of the issue, it gives the scale of the coming battles that might affect eCommerce.