Can Amazon, Ebay and Alibaba Address the Proliferation of Counterfeit Products?

by Paul J. Ortiz

It’s a Complex Problem:

As e-commerce sites like Amazon and Alibaba continue to expand their market share, brand owners have become increasingly more vocal about the rise in counterfeit products being sold on these sites, often in direct competition with the brand owner’s authentic products. Finger pointing is easy given the sheer volume of fakes being sold on these sites. In addition, when you consider that counterfeit and pirated products account for 5 to 7% of world trade with an estimated value of $1.7 trillion USD in 2011, you can begin to understand the sheer magnitude of the problem.

To make matters worse, industry experts believe the value and volume of those goods will only continue to grow. This was already an alarming and growing global problem long before e-commerce platforms became the massive on-line retailers they are now. However, these sites have made it easier than ever for the counterfeiters to sell their goods on a scale and scope no-one could have ever imagined.

Having led two of the largest and most sophisticated Global Brand Protection/IP Enforcement teams, as well as working with dozens of brands on these issues, I can tell you that counterfeiting is an incredibly complex business run by some of the smartest and most determined folks in the world. They are able to change business models quicker than any Fortune 50 company and the sophisticated ones are well-financed and have top notch engineering talent at their disposal. They are also experts in using social engineering to obtain access to brands and sensitive data and possess extensive knowledge of manufacturing and global supply chains.

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