There are two classes of merchant on Amazon.com: those who get special protection from counterfeiters and those who don’t. From a report: The first category includes sellers of some big-name brands, such as Adidas, Apple and even Amazon itself. They benefit from digital fortifications that prevent unauthorized sellers from listing certain products — an iPhone, say, or eero router — for sale. Many lesser-known brands belong to the second group and have no such shield. Fred Ruckel, inventor of a popular cat toy called the Ripple Rug, is one of those sellers. A few months ago, knockoff artists began selling versions of his product, siphoning off tens of thousands of dollars in sales and forcing him to spend weeks trying have the interlopers booted off the site.
Amazon’s marketplace has long been plagued with fakes, a scourge that has made household names like Nike leery of putting their products there. While most items can be uploaded freely to the site, Amazon by 2016 had begun requiring would-be sellers of a select group of products to get permission to list them. The company doesn’t publicize the program, but in the merchant community it has become known as “brand gating.” Of the millions of products sold on Amazon, perhaps thousands are afforded this kind of protection, people who advise sellers say. Most merchants, many of them small businesses, rely on Amazon’s algorithms to ferret out fakes before they appear — an automated process that dedicated scammers have managed to evade.