US Trade Rep Puts Amazon on List of Notorious Pirates

Amazon deliveries are shown near a Prime Air cargo plane in 2016, at a Boeing hangar in Seattle. (AP file photo/Ted S. Warren)

WASHINGTON (CN) — The United States blacklisted five international Amazon locations Wednesday in a move that the Jeff Bezos-owned e-commerce giant slammed as the latest mark of the President Trump’s “personal vendetta” against it.

Citing concerns made by the American Apparel & Footwear Association, the U.S. Trade Representative listed Amazon domains in Canada, France, Germany, India, and the United Kingdom to its list of markets “notorious for counterfeiting and piracy.”

This marks the first time Amazon domains have ever been placed on this list; there are no punitive repercussions for place holders aside from bad press.

“Rights holders expressed concern that the seller information displayed by Amazon is often misleading … and that anyone can become a seller on Amazon with too much ease because Amazon does not sufficiently vet sellers,” Wednesday’s report states. “They also complained that Amazon’s counterfeit removal processes can be lengthy and burdensome, even for rights holders that enroll in Amazon’s brand protection programs.”

While Amazon shot back Wednesday that it strongly disagreed with the characterization, Steve Lamar, president and CEO of the apparel and footwear group, praised the move.

“We have been particularly focused on drawing attention to the counterfeits that too often plague foreign and domestic third-party marketplaces,” Lamar said in a statement, taking care not to mention Amazon by name.

“Unfortunately, consumers are learning the hard way that counterfeits affect more than lost sales for famous brands,” Lamar continued. “They also expose purchasers of everyday basics and essentials to a range of quality concerns and product safety risks. It is essential that both domestic and worldwide marketplaces, and the countries that house them, implement effective and proactive measures to safeguard intellectual property to protect consumers, workers, and their families.”

Lamar’s group made the case last year, for the second time in a row, to add five of Amazon’s operations to the list.

Amazon at the time said AAFA’s “submission does not reflect the efforts that Amazon has already undertaken on their behalf and does not support Amazon’s inclusion on the 2019 Notorious Markets List.” 

It also noted that the company’s ability to crack down on counterfeiters is hindered when retailers decline to enroll in its brand-registry program.

The program uses algorithms to predict intellectual property violations for brands that enroll.

President Donald Trump is said to be especially critical of Amazon not only because of the negative coverage he faces from The Washington Post, another Bezos holding, but because the billionaire Bezos has a net worth that far outstrips his own.

Earlier this week, Trump said he would not approve a $10 billion loan to the U.S. Postal Service unless it committed to charging big shipping companies like Amazon higher prices.

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