Amazon accused of copying merchant products in India

When asked in July, 2020, by US Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) whether Amazon ever mined data from its third-party vendors to launch competing products, founder and then CEO Jeff Bezos said he couldn’t answer “yes” or “no,” but insisted Amazon had rules disallowing the practice.

“What I can tell you is we have a policy against using seller-specific data to aid our private label business but I can’t guarantee that policy has never been violated,” Bezos said.

According to documents obtained by Reuters, Amazon’s employees in India flouted that policy by copying the products of Amazon marketplace sellers for its in-house brands and then manipulating search results on Amazon’s website to place its knockoffs at the top of search results lists.

“The documents reveal how Amazon’s private-brands team in India secretly exploited internal data from Amazon.in to copy products sold by other companies, and then offered them on its platform,” said Reuters reporters Aditya Kalra and Steve Stecklow in a report published on Wednesday.

“The employees also stoked sales of Amazon private-brand products by rigging Amazon’s search results so that the company’s products would appear, as one 2016 strategy report for India put it, ‘in the first 2 or three … search results’ when customers were shopping on Amazon.in.”

Last year, the Wall Street Journal published similar allegations that the company used third-party merchant data to develop competing products, which prompted Rep. Jayapal’s question to Bezos. Such claims are central to the ongoing antitrust investigations of Amazon being conducted in the US, Europe, and India.

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Source: Amazon accused of copying merchant products in India • The Register

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