Local business owner claims problem with counterfeits on Amazon hurts sales

He told First Coast News that his business has been in a tailspin because of Chinese knock offs based on his designs.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- While Amazon was celebrating the success of Prime Day 2017, Don Myers was not. The local business owner told First Coast News he has had a constant problem with counterfeits on Amazon and it's hurting his sales.

Myers started his business T-Shirt Bodello in 2006 based on original works of art that he drew himself. Seven years later, he was a seller on Amazon.

His sales skyrocketed the first year reaching $300,000, but recently the business has been in a tailspin.

"A little before 2016, we really noticed an impact, like we would look and there would be no sales for the day," he said.

His 2017 sales have been so poor, Myers had to lay off his staff of four.

"It has been in a nose dive, we have been destroyed," he said. “I am the last guy standing."

Myers blames counterfeiters. He said they stole is artwork, created their own shirts and sold them for less on Amazon.

"It is original art I drew with this hand either sitting at that drawing table," he said. “So I take it personally when somebody is stealing it…. It’s my art, but it’s not my shirt.”

Similar complaints have plagued the world's largest marketplace for the past few years.

"This has only become a problem in the last couple of years,” he said. “It has become an epidemic."

Amazon is aware of the issue and has an Anti-Counterfeiting policy. It reads in part: "We take product authenticity very seriously."

"American Copyright Law and American Contract Law and liability does not go out the window just because the transaction is handled online," he said.

Myers said he has filed thousands of Digital Millennium Copyright Act violations, but he said the problem continues.

Frustrated, Myers sent a series of emails to Amazon management brand during Prime Day on Tuesday. He told them he had reached out to the media.

Later in the day he received an email from the Seller Performance Team revoking his selling privileges.

It read in part:

 "You have continued to add inaccurate information to product detail pages. This is against our policies. As a result, you may no longer sell on Amazon.com, and your listings have been removed from our site."

Myers said he is disappointed because all he was doing is trying to protect his brand.

"I am not giving up without a fight," he said. “We will see how that goes."

The company wants to make it clear that the decision to revoke his privileges was not in retaliation to his complaints.

 An Amazon spokesperson said , "We actively work with our sellers and it’s unfortunate that we’re not able to continue to do so with Mr. Myers."

The company issued the following statement on counterfeiting:  

“Amazon respects the intellectual property (IP) rights of others and requires that third-party sellers do the same when listing items for sale on Amazon. Amazon’s customers trust that when they make a purchase through Amazon’s website—either directly from Amazon or from one of its millions of third-party sellers—they will receive authentic products. To preserve that trust, Amazon is investing heavily in protecting the integrity of the Amazon marketplace for consumers, sellers, and manufacturers. Amazon is working closely with rights owners to strengthen protections for their brands on Amazon. We remove suspected counterfeit items as soon as we become aware of them, and we suspend or block bad actors suspected of engaging in illegal behavior or infringing others’ intellectual property rights. We have taken independent legal action against bad actors, and will continue to do so.  And we work with law enforcement who present us with valid legal process.

As part of our investment in brand protection, we are building powerful tools tailored to the needs of rights owners. In order to detect bad actors and potentially counterfeit products, we employ dedicated teams of software engineers, research scientists, program managers, and investigators to operate and continually refine our anti-counterfeiting program. When a business registers to sell products through Amazon’s Marketplace, Amazon’s automated systems scan information for signals that the business might be a bad actor, and Amazon blocks those bad actors during registration before they can offer any products for sale. On an ongoing basis, Amazon’s systems also automatically and continuously scan numerous variables related to sellers, products, and offers to detect activity that indicates products offered might be counterfeit. Amazon is also investing in innovative machine learning to improve our automated systems in order to anticipate and stay ahead of bad actors. We take this fight very seriously and we look forward to partnering with even more stakeholders to eliminate counterfeits from our marketplace.”

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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