The following are remarks from Amazon’s Italy Policy and Strategy Director, Bianca Maria Martinelli, who spoke at the panel event “The protection of Made in Italy in the USA”, hosted by the Italian Embassy in the United States, in collaboration with the Italian Trade Agency and Guardia di Finanza.
At Amazon, we strongly believe in the value of Italian SMEs and we want to be allies of the more than 20,000 SMEs who sell on our store, by helping them to fulfil their potential. In 2021, we invested more than 3.4 billion euros in Europe to create special programs and services to meet their needs.
These initiatives have been developed in different areas - training, logistics management, new product launches, business analysis and optimization, intellectual property protection, and tax compliance management. This is also done through agreements with Italian, European and global institutions, such as the renewed Collaboration Agreement with the ITA for the promotion of Made in Italy products worldwide.
We are particularly proud of our Made in Italyshowcase, dedicated to products made by large companies, SMEs and artisans in Italy, with 1 million products available on Amazon’s global stores (U.S., UK, Germany, France, Spain, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden). More than 4,500 Italian artisans and SMEs are using Amazon's Made in Italy showcase to export their products beyond national borders.
The protection of SMEs to support their growth
In addition to the support we offer SMEs to reach foreign countries through our stores, we have developed programs to protect their industrial property rights over the years. In 2021 alone, we invested more than 900 million euros worldwide, and employed more than 12,000 employees to combat fraud, counterfeiting and abuse. We have innovated in the verification processes of selling partners and invested in the development of technological solutions to allow brands to monitor the listings on our store, detect any infringing products and remove them.
A very important aspect of Amazon's approach to combating counterfeiting is cooperation with IP holders; we’ve created tools such as Brand Registry, Transparency, and Project Zero, developed with advanced technologies:
- Brand Registry provides brand owners with access to a set of tools to support them in managing and protecting their IP by controlling text, images, and content on their product detail pages. In 2021, Brand Registry was used by 700,000 active brands, a 40% increase over 2020.
- Project Zero allows IP holders to proactively and independently remove any counterfeit products; more than 20,000 brands are enrolled.
- Transparency prevents counterfeit products from reaching customers around the world through serialization. IP holders apply a unique code to each individual unit of the selected product, which can be scanned to verify the authenticity of the unit throughout the distribution chain. More than 23,000 brands globally have used Transparency, which has enabled more than 750 million product units to be protected by 2021.
Along with these tools, in 2020 Amazon launched the IP Accelerator program, which connects entrepreneurs with a select network of law firms specializing in intellectual property that support them - with fixed and competitive fees - in filing a trademark registration. Brands enrolled in this program also gain faster access to Brand Registry benefits.
All of these initiatives enabled us to achieve important results: in 2021, more than 20,000 Italian SMEs selling on Amazon recorded sales abroad of about 800 million euros, enabling us to set ourselves greater and more ambitious goals, such as reaching 1.2 billion euros per year in sales abroad by 2025, more than double the 2020 exports value.
Public and private sector partnerships to protect Made in Italy
We are proud of the progress we have made. However, as we stressed in our blueprint for private and public sector action, preventing counterfeit across the industry requires retailers, logistics providers, customs, and government bodies to work together.
A great example, in this regard, is the FATA project, From Awareness to Action, which stemmed from an unprecedented collaboration between Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, with the support of Amazon. The FATA study emphasized the importance of cooperation between public and private actors to fight a growing interconnection of criminal schemes and an increasing link between counterfeiting, fraud, economic-financial crimes, and cybercrimes.
Collaboration is at the core of what Amazon and Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU) do every day, all over the world. In 2020, we launched the CCU, a global team dedicated to stopping bad actors and holding them accountable; gathering evidence, undertaking independent or partnered brands, and filing civil lawsuits where appropriate. In 2021, in Europe, we partnered with Europol, the Guardia Civil in Spain and the regional police services of Germany, along with many customs agencies. In Italy, we collaborated with the Guardia di Finanza and some iconic Italian fashion brands, such as Ferragamo and Valentino, to file joint lawsuits against counterfeiters.
Looking ahead, we believe that legislative interventions, in addition to supporting digital literacy initiatives, legislative harmonization, and tax/customs/bureaucratic simplification, should also be geared toward simplifying the trademark registration process for SMEs to protect the uniqueness of their products and intellectual property; facilitating and providing tools that help Italian businesses protect their trademarks once registered.
As we continue to innovate and honor these important commitments made from day one, we continue to strengthen public-private collaboration because we strongly believe in this common goal of accelerating the process of transformation, protection and growth of Made in Italy.
An Amazon selling partner, Emil Ninni, co-founder of Koala Babycare, attended the event organized by the Embassy of Italy in the United States, in collaboration with Guardia di Finanza and the ITA.
"Our company specializes in the sale and production of early childhood products, from pregnancy to the child's first two or three[LJ1] years. Our business, which started on Amazon in 2018 with the launch of our first product, soon reached a sales volume that allowed us to grow and launch additional products,” said Emil. "For 2023, in addition to the creation of new products, we have set ourselves the goal of increasing our brand visibility and sales in the United States, a country that, to date, already accounts for about 12% of the company's sales, following the launch in early 2022. However, we are well aware that, even more in a geographic area with such a large potential in terms of customers, protecting one's Made in Italy brand is fundamental. In fact, someone tried to sell our product by replicating our images and product text, but thanks to Brand Registry, we easily reported these infringements and Amazon immediately stopped the violation by blocking the account."