Amazon Project Zero was launched in 2019. It was created to ensure that customers actually receive the authentic product they purchased from Amazon, driving counterfeits to zero.
Project Zero uses the brand’s knowledge of their own intellectual property and combines it with Amazon’s advanced technology and use of machine learning and innovation to be able to detect fraudulent activity.
Over 10,000 brands, ranging from emerging entrepreneurs to international enterprises, have enrolled with Project Zero, including Arduino, BMW, ChessCentral, LifeProof, OtterBox, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Veet – have already enrolled in Amazon Project Zero.
In this article we will explain why this program could be your best bet to protect your brand and reputation.
Marketplace Brand Protection
Counterfeit products represent one of the biggest challenges for brand protection. The risk is having third-party vendors selling counterfeit goods as authentic ones and customers leaving bad reviews on your online store, which can eventually get you out of the buy box.
Before Project Zero, brands on Amazon needed to be constantly tackling black hat vendors to avoid getting bad reviews from unhappy customers. The problem becomes more serious for bigger brands. For example, Apple stated that about 90% of the “official” iPhone chargers available on Amazon were fakes. Other brands, like Birkenstock, decided to pull out from the Marketplace completely.
Amazon has taken legal action against counterfeit sellers in the past, besides launching their Brand Gating program. It’s one thing to jailbreak Firestick or use a service to get money from Amazon when your package is late. It’s quite different to sell fake products. make Selling fake products is a big deal and Amazon takes it seriously.
Project Zero Features
Project Zero is a suite of tools provided to brands by Amazon to empower them to protect themselves:
- Automated Protections: Amazon has automated protections powered by machine learning that do an ongoing scanning of their stores and proactively remove suspected counterfeit items.
All brands need to do is to provide key data points about them, like trademarks and logos. and we scan over 5 billion daily listing update attempts, looking for suspected counterfeits.
- Self-service counterfeit removal: Brands can start removing counterfeit listings themselveswithout contacting Amazon. Project Zero has a new self-service tool so brands can take on the task of removing potential counterfeit items proactively.
- Product Serialization: A unique code is applied to every unit that is manufactured for an enrolled product by a single brand.This way, Amazon can scan the code and confirm the authenticity of every item that is purchased in Amazon’s stores. Brands can choose to serialize some of their goods, not all of them. The product serialization tool is now available in the U.S, Canada, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, UK, and India.
Other tools offered by Amazon to increase as part of their Brand Protection Program:
- Amazon Counterfeit Crime Unit (ACCU): Amazon’s global team that is in charge of carrying ou t investigations and bringing legal action against bad actors. Their job is to protect customers, selling partners and brands. You can learn more here.
- Amazon IP Accelerator: A feature designed to help businesses obtain intellectual property rights in a quicker way to join Amazon’s brand protection program. The program was designed for small and medium businesses. Amazon IP Accelerator is available to entrepreneurs around the world that are looking to secure intellectual property in the U.S. Entrepreneurs can get in touch with US law firms experts in trademark applications. Amazon offers pre-negotiated rates to work with these firms.
- Amazon Brand Registry: This a service provided by Amazon free of charge. It gives brand owners access to a powerful range of tools to help them offer their customers the trusted experience they deserve while protecting a brand’s IP.
How Can Retailers Get Started With Project Zero?
Amazon, as the largest online marketplace in the world, comes with a bunch of challenges. Amazon tries its best to keep customers and sellers happy. Project Zero is a chance for every brand to protect their proprietary products from counterfeiting and continue to drive sales and raising brand awareness.
When Project Zero was first launched, brands could only join when receiving an invitation. Amazon no longer requires brands to be invited to Project Zero. Now, all brands have to do to get started is do a little work. Most of the requirements to join Project Zero are pretty clear and straightforward.
Project Zero Eligibility Requirements
Currently, Project Zero is available to eligible brands in the U.S., UK, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Japan, India, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and the Netherlands.
All brands that meet the criteria can join, regardless of their selling relationship with Amazon.
To be eligible for Project Zero:
- Your brand must be already part of the Amazon Brand Registry with a government-registered trademark.
- As an owner, you’ll have to:
- Own the rights of the trademark.
- Have your Amazon account enrolled in Amazon’s Brand Registry.
- Submit reports with an acceptance rate of at least 90% of potential infringements in the last six months.
If you just joined Brand Registry and haven’t used the Report Violation tool you will not be eligible to join Project Zero.
You can check if you’re eligible by signing in using your Amazon account associated with Brand Registry:
What Does Project Zero Cost?
Enrolling to Project Zero is free. Brands can get access to the majority of it, but using some of the tools means you’ll have to pay. Automated protections and self-service counterfeit removal features are free. If you want to use the product serialization feature, the pricing can range between $0.01 – 0.05 per product, depending on the volume.
It may not seem like much, but the accumulated cost can add up if your store sells a high volume of products at a low cost. Crunch the numbers to see if this is a feature that is necessary for your business.
Here is a list of some of the most important FAQs for Project Zero:
How can brands make sure they’re using the self-service counterfeit removal tool correctly?
With Project Zero, Amazon provides brands with an unprecedented level of responsibility. This is because Amazon believes that combining its strengths with those of the brands counterfeit listings could go down to zero.
Brands are responsible for maintaining an accuracy of at least 99% to keep their Project Zero privileges. Amazon also offers a series of processes to promote accuracy. It includes required training as part of Project Zero enrollment. Project Zero prevents the misuse of its tools by continuously monitoring it.
Are registered agents eligible for Project Zero?
No. It is mandatory to be the rights owner of the trademark for the brand enrolled in Brand Registry to be eligible to access Project Zero.
My brand is enrolled in Project Zero, am I automatically enrolled in the other countries?
Yes. If your brand has been accepted to Project Zero in your country, it gets automatically enrolled in the other countries where Project Zero is available.
Is Project Zero free?
Enrolling in Project Zero is completely free. Brands get access to the automated protections and the self-service counterfeit removal tool. If you choose to use the product serialization it does have an extra cost.
Issues with Project Zero
There is a learning curve for brands to use Project Zero in a way that it will do more good than harm. Some of the problems that may rise are:
- Automated protection can compare the brand’s images and other information with the sellers to limit the number of fake listings. If other sellers piggyback on an existing listing, then they’re not required to submit product images or logos, so they can still harm your brand.
- Popular brands may still be affected, since popular logos are the easiest to copy. Amazon may not be able to tell the difference to screen out counterfeits.
- Brands should be careful when using the self-service removal tool. They should use it ethically and not drive away authorized sellers too.
- It is not available in all countries.
Project Zero Benefits
- Proactive counterfeit protection
- Avoid human errors with the use of machine learning and automation technology
- Access to self-service removal tool
- Affordable product serialization
- Free automation resources
- Integration with Amazon’s Brand Registry as a comprehensive solution to avoid counterfeit listings and fraudulent sellers.
No matter the size of your business, it’s important to keep your brand protected. Amazon continues to be vulnerable to counterfeit listings and goods.
Over the last couple of years, the tech giant has improved its strategies to weed out knock-offs and black hat sellers. Project Zero is the latest effort to combine Amazon’s machine learning and automation technology and brand’s data to drive the number of counterfeit items to zero.
It does require some work and responsibility from you as a brand owner, and depending on the size of your business, product serialization may require manpower. However, it’s worth the try.
About the Author:
AMZ Advisers is a full-service eCommerce consultancy focused on creating growth opportunities for brands, manufacturers, and private labels across the US, Europe, Canada, and Asia. The AMZ Advisers team has been able to achieve incredible growth on the Amazon platform for their clients by optimizing and managing their accounts and creating in-depth content marketing strategies.