Strategic Collaboration Between Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit and the Prada Group Leads to International Counterfeiter’s Guilty Plea

A Chinese court returns a favorable decision in a case that relied primarily on the bad actor’s overseas sales data and inventory provided by Amazon.

Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU), the Prada Group, and other luxury brands collaborated to provide information and evidence to Chinese law enforcement, which resulted in a counterfeiter’s guilty plea to crimes related to the sale of counterfeit luxury products.

This is a unique and landmark case in the fight against counterfeiters and a turning point for Intellectual Property rights owners. The plea represents a rare instance where a criminal referral from the CCU resulted in a criminal judgment primarily based on the evidence of overseas counterfeit sales records and fulfillment center inventory records outside of China, and not on seized counterfeit products.

In common practice, criminal judgments had typically been issued by courts when there was evidence of counterfeits seized during raids by law enforcement. In this instance, the court was able to primarily rely on the information provided by Amazon and luxury brands, such as Prada.

Amazon’s CCU detected the defendant’s attempted counterfeiting in 2021, and following internal investigations, Amazon provided a criminal referral to the relevant regional Chinese enforcement agency, or public security bureau (PSB), to pursue a criminal case. The defendant has been sentenced to three years in prison, will pay a $25,000 fine, and forfeit all revenue gained from the sale of counterfeit goods. The individual’s illicit inventory of counterfeits will also be seized and destroyed.

“The guilty plea is a significant win for Amazon’s CCU, but more importantly it’s a win for all of those who share our commitment to tackling the industry-wide issue of counterfeiting,” said Kebharu Smith, director of Amazon’s CCU. “This successful result would not have been possible without the collaboration with law enforcement and luxury players such as the Prada Group. We are grateful for their support and look forward to continuing to take the fight to counterfeiters.”

Francesca Secondari, Prada Group General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer said: “We are firmly committed to eradicating the sale of counterfeit goods to protect our brands and to ensure that our products meet the level of quality, craftsmanship and care that people expect from us. Through the collaboration with Amazon, we are making great progress in the fight against those who attempt to break the law and to negatively impact our customers.”

Amazon employs a host of automated protection technologies to keep counterfeits from ever entering the store. In 2022, Amazon’s systems stopped more than 800,000 bad actor attempts at opening new selling accounts, before they were able to list a single product for sale, and more than 99% of listings suspected of being fraudulent or counterfeit are blocked or removed through Amazon’s automated, proactive protections. Amazon remains committed to pursuing bad actors who attempt to evade protections and continuing to work to maintain the integrity of the Amazon store. Amazon works closely with brands and law enforcement across the globe to hold bad actors accountable. In 2022, Amazon’s CCU sued or referred for investigation over 1,300 criminals in the U.S., the UK, across the EU, and in China.