Fighting counterfeits in e-commerce

I am a proud Frenchman working for a proud Japanese-owned company, Rakuten PriceMinister. Both my homeland and the homeland of our parent company take great pride in quality and craftsmanship. Both France and Japan hate knockoffs and counterfeits – and that’s just part of why today in Brussels we have signed an important new agreement with the European Commission to fight fakes. I was privileged to be invited to represent the major e-commerce platforms at the ceremony.

In France, Rakuten PriceMinister has long adopted a robust approach to fighting fakes. We aim to detect illegal content before it is listed on our platform. We deploy sophisticated software to detect the possible presence of counterfeits by tracking sellers who propose a high volume of well-known trademark items. We provide an easy one-click process for rights holders to report potential problems. We apply a notice and stay down principle, instead of just a mere notice and take down, making sure that violators do not reappear on our site. We have signed an agreement with French customs to exchange information.

The results are effective. Since 2007, we have detected between 98 and 99 percent of infringing offers prior to their publication online. We block between 1,500 and 2,600 user accounts each year. The Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group has awarded us its gold medal. We were active participants in the European Commission’s first memorandum of understanding signed in 2011.

In Japan, the home market of our parent company, we have made a similar robust effort. In 2007, we launched a new program known as the Rakuten “Quality Assurance” Shopping Service (Japanese only) that strengthened our compliance system and expanded our collaborative efforts with brands to ensure the authenticity of products available on our platform. Over 1,100 brands are now working with us directly on this anti-counterfeiting program in Japan to identify and investigate potential issues. Potential issues are flagged by both automated and manual searches, as well as consumer complaints. We also compensate consumers if they mistakenly purchase fakes up to the value of 300,000 yen (approximately 2,500 euro.)

Today’s new agreement with brand owners and the European Commission represents an important step ahead. It will quantify our joint effort. For the first time, this new agreement requires both brand owners and e-commerce platforms to detail their progress with hard numbers. Twice a year, we will publish figures on how many counterfeits products and sellers we have caught and taken down.

Fakes will only be beaten if all of us cooperate. It is notable that all the major e-commerce platforms are present and participating. It’s important also that brands step up their efforts and invest their own resources to defend their intellectual property. Without their assistance, our fight will fail.

Despite all our efforts, the war is not yet won. In today’s price-competitive marketplace, no brand is exempt from being counterfeited. A clean marketplace is important both for our merchants and for consumers. It inspires confidence. It inspires trust. Confidence and trust in the integrity of products and the platforms where they are sold is essential for the healthy growth of e-commerce in Europe and around the world.

For further information about anti-counterfeit measures at Rakuten PriceMinister, see the video below:

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