Bonnie Vent is a business owner who, like many others, has experienced just how difficult it is to deal with the problem of counterfeiting on Amazon Merch. Amazon recently admitted that it has a substantial problem with counterfeit products, so unfortunately the difficulties she faced with the e-commerce giant are not unique. Her products were also targeted on Google Shopping.
In our interview with Bonnie, she shares how her business was impacted by counterfeiting, and how she responded. She also shares her thoughts on simplyBrand’s anti-counterfeiting solution. Read on to learn about her story.
1. Hi Bonnie, can you please introduce yourself to our readers?
I am the owner of Genesis Creations Entertainment, where I act as an entertainment broker. I also use many other platforms as my creative outlets for my merchandise.
2. You have a number of interesting creations that you sell. What do you sell and where do you sell it?
I am involved in an Amazon program known as Amazon Merch. I create designs and Amazon put the t-shirts up on Amazon’s website for sale. I receive a commission for each sale.
3. Your have had some unfortunate experiences with counterfeiting. Can you share what happened?
Most of my Amazon Merch designs were stolen and put on other t-shirt design websites without my knowledge. To add insult to injury, many of these copycat design websites created Google Ads to assist in selling their counterfeits.
4. What steps did you take to try to stop the counterfeiting on Amazon and what was the result?
My first step was to contact Amazon. They explained that they only address theft by other Amazon Merch designers. They do nothing about 3rd party theft. I suggested to Amazon that they watermark or lower the image quality on their listings to deter this mass copy theft process. I found some of these other t-shirt websites actually have software to mass copy Amazon listings into their websites.
5. How was your experience trying to communicate to Google Shopping about the copycat goods?
Google does take down Google Ad listings if you can prove the design is yours and the listing is counterfeit. My name was in the original listing and the counterfeiters made no attempt to change it. This made this process relatively easy with two exceptions:
1. You have to report each violation separately to Google.
2. Google does nothing to address counterfeiters and your designs remain on their websites. You are required to contact each website individually and request removal. Some will remove the items, while others ignore you or demand a “Cease and Desist” letter.
6. In what ways has counterfeiting of your products impacted your business?
I have discontinued adding t-shirt designs to Amazon. My books and videos have also been counterfeited from the Amazon website.
7. Are there any lessons that you’ve learned that you want to share with other online business owners?
Some people create very trendy shirts that just have words on them. I created actual art designs, which are not as easy to steal. As a designer you need to be extremely careful that you have not violated someone else’s copyright or trademark.
Amazon is extremely diligent on designers complying with the law. If you upload someone else’s design or infringe on copyright/trademark you can be removed from the Merch program and lose your commission. Parody and politics are the only exceptions. It makes for great irony as they have no concern for your legal rights as a creator of original designs.
8. Our company, simplyBrand, aims to make the process of taking down counterfeit goods far easier for businesses. Our anti-counterfeiting solution combines blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, and crowdsourcing to alert businesses when their goods have been counterfeited and provide support to them to respond to these instances. Do you think this novel approach to the problem could be useful considering your experience?
Yes I think it would be. If you get very serious about your design creations, there could be 1000’s of designs to monitor. simplyBrand would also be a helpful service to look at existing copyrights/trademarks to keep designers from inadvertently violating the law.
9. At simplyBrand, we believe that counterfeiters shouldn’t get away with their crimes. We work directly with enforcement agencies to take down URLs that are identified as selling counterfeit goods. Could businesses like yours benefit from trying out our proactive approach considering that many sites like Amazon do little to respond to counterfeiting?
Yes, simplyBrand’s approach would also give designers more power to start preventing counterfeiting before it starts.
In order to address the growing problem of online counterfeiting, simplyBrand has developed an advanced ecosystem that draws on artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, and crowdsourcing. simplyBrand is currently in pre-sale stage, meaning that you can get ready to access all of the benefits of our cutting-edge technology by purchasing our token, SBA. For more details, go to our website, or buy SBA now on COBINHOOD.
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