As of Sept. 1, each seller’s page on Amazon.com must now display the respective seller’s name and address. This new seller transparency policy, announced by Amazon on July 8,, brings some of Amazon’s U.S.-based practices into conformity with policies in other jurisdictions, including Europe, Japan, and Mexico. It also comes on the heels of record-setting online retail sales and the restructuring of traditional retail as we know it.
According to the retailer, Amazon intends its new seller transparency policy to “help customers learn more about the businesses of a seller and the products that they are selling . . . [and] make informed shopping decisions.” The move also provides intellectual property rights owners with improved ability to investigate and pursue potential counterfeiters and infringers. With increased transparency, rights owners can avoid the endless whack-a-mole game to enforce their intellectual property on the platform.
Counterfeiters and infringers represent a reputational threat to ecommerce platforms. And Amazon has often been on the leading edge of addressing infringing conduct in its marketplace. In addition to its standard reporting process, Amazon also offers rights owners the ability to participate in its Brand Registry and Project Zero initiatives, and the piloted Utility Patent Neutral Evaluation program. Other platforms have also adopted their own versions of these enforcement programs, including eBay and Alibaba. Amazon’s announcement falls in line with its now-regular cycle of introducing new tools for combatting counterfeiters and infringers. This new initiative also appears to generally track a growing, tectonic shift to online retail sales and emerging legislative interest in online ecommerce platforms.