Protecting consumers from fakes: How Rakuten France is fighting counterfeit products in Europe
Marine Chambon, Legal Counsel, Legal Group, Rakuten France
The sportswear brand faced a challenge: It feared its expensive designer sneakers were being counterfeited and sold online. Could Rakuten help? Yes, we answered. The brand gave us enough information to set a price filter. When cut-rate offers were posted, we took a close look, ensured that it wasn’t a second-hand version being offered, and, when needed, removed the listing.
The success came thanks to our participation in the European Commission’s pathbreaking Memorandum of Understanding on the sale of counterfeit goods. Rakuten France was one of the original signers in 2011. For the past six years, we have held regular bilaterals with brand participants, ranging from eyeglass leader Luxottica to sports giant Nike. They scour our platform for potential counterfeits. We discuss their findings and take actions like the price filters to keep our platform clean.
“A clean marketplace is important both for our merchants and for consumers. It inspires confidence. It inspires trust.”Marine Chambon, Legal Counsel, Legal Group, Rakuten France
The task needs to be put in perspective. Brands found few potential counterfeits on Rakuten France. We long have adopted a robust approach to fighting fakes. 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 takedown, making sure that violators do not reappear on our site. We have signed an agreement with French customs to exchange information.
Fighting fakes: A full-time job
For many products, it is difficult to identify whether they are counterfeit or not. Images are often inconclusive. Many times not enough product information exists to make a clear determination. The overwhelming majority of items end up being classified as “unable to determine.” In today’s price-competitive marketplace, no brand is exempt from being counterfeited.
That’s why we’re working to improve identification. Rakuten teams have put in place keyword filters capable of identifying anomalies in products put on sale. In the event of an alert, suspicious announcements are automatically sent for observation, 24 hours a day, and are processed manually.
“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.”
In the very rare case of the sale of a counterfeit product, Rakuten gives the buyer the opportunity to open a complaint and then requests the immediate return of the product to its premises in order to analyze it thoroughly. The dedicated Rakuten team exchanges with the sellers concerned and deals with their situation individually. If the buyer’s complaint is justified, they are reimbursed thanks to the Trusted Third Party guarantee which protects them free of charge.
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.
About the author: Marine Chambon has served as legal counsel at Rakuten France in Paris for nearly four years. Chambon is principally in charge of contracts signed by Rakuten France, from negotiation to execution and follow-up. She also works on regulatory issues in collaboration with the European Commission, other marketplaces, brands and consumers groups, in support of the various Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) signed by Rakuten France against counterfeit and dangerous products offered for sale online.