Date: May 12, 2020
In Case You Missed It!
Amazon Coronavirus Response: 3 Things to Know
Amid the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic, Amazon has found itself in the spotlight.
Regulators slapped Amazon with a badge of dishonor for its inability to curb counterfeits flooding its markets from around the world, and more lawmakers sound the alarm about the company’s “abuses” of its dominant market position to stamp out competition. Meanwhile, the company posted shaky quarterly earnings, with costs from the coronavirus making some analysts second-guess the company.
Below is a wrap-up of some of the most notable coverage on these topics from the past week.
Amazon slammed for counterfeits on its international platforms as regulators seek to protect consumers from scourge of fake goods.
“The U.S. trade representative’s office on Wednesday put Amazon’s web domains in Canada, France, Germany, India, and the U.K. on its ‘notorious markets’ list of platforms that are believed to facilitate intellectual-property violations.” (The Wall Street Journal, U.S. Tags Amazon Sites as ‘Notorious Markets,’ April 29)
“The list ‘identifies illustrative examples of online and physical markets that reportedly engage in, facilitate, turn a blind eye to, or benefit from substantial copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting, according to information submitted to USTR in response to a notice published in the Federal Register requesting public comments.’” (The Motley Fool, Amazon Lands on Government List of Platforms That Enable Counterfeits, April 30)
“The company had previously dodged the dishonor, despite a large US fashion trade group calling for its inclusion and companies such as Birkenstock and Williams-Sonoma complaining about fakes appearing on Amazon’s third-party marketplaces.” (Quartz, The White House included Amazon on a list of “notorious” piracy sites, April 29)
“Amazon has repeatedly come under fire for its perceived failure to take adequate steps to stop the sale of counterfeit products through its marketplace. In early March, a bipartisan bill was introduced to the House of Representatives to make the operators of all online marketplaces responsible for the sale of counterfeit goods through their platforms. Were it to become law, it would mandate that those retailers, among other things, vet sellers.” (RetailWire, Can Amazon weed out marketplace fraudsters via video chat? April 29)
Analysts worry about mixed quarterly earnings from Amazon despite sales surges, warning about a possible canary in the coal mine.
“Amazon’s sales surged during a period of economic standstill caused the coronavirus pandemic, but costs related to the pandemic ate away at the online retailer’s profits, the company told investors Thursday.” (FOX News, Coronavirus cuts into Amazon profits despite sales gains, April 30)
“The $4 billion figure also includes productivity losses from changes Amazon is making to its warehouses, including spreading workers out. Amazon is also working to develop its own Covid-19 testing lab and said it would start by testing some of its front-line workers.” (Recode, Jeff Bezos warns that Amazon may lose money despite the pandemic shopping surge, April 30)
“They’ve got a choppy history and investors have given them a lot of leeway because they’ve harvested the benefits of those investments later, but this one is a little more tricky,” [Edward D. Jones & Co. analyst Brian] Yarbrough said. “Some of these costs seem like they’re going to stick around, which brings the profitability of the company into question.” (Bloomberg, Amazon Says It Risks Loss on Spending Rise for Pandemic, April 30)
Sen. Josh Hawley takes aim at Amazon “copycat products” as he calls for a criminal investigation into how the company “abuses its position.”
“Amazon abuses its position as an online platform and collects detailed data about merchandise so Amazon can create copycat products under an Amazon brand. Internal documents and the testimony of more than 20 former Amazon employees support this finding,” Mr. Hawley said in the letter Tuesday. (The Wall Street Journal, Senator Pushes DOJ to Open Criminal Investigation Into Amazon, April 28)
“Officials in both departments have met with Amazon’s retail competitors, with the FTC more actively keeping tabs on the company, people familiar with the matter have said.” (The Wall Street Journal, Senator Pushes DOJ to Open Criminal Investigation Into Amazon, April 28)
“If the retail giant were ever to be broken up, Amazon could have to give up these separate entities and go back to its original form as a marketplace, as opposed to selling its own products. That could drive up prices since Amazon could no longer offer massive discounts on products it owns, like a Ring security system.” (Digital Trends, Sen. Josh Hawley calls for criminal antitrust investigation into Amazon, April 28)
ABOUT THE FREE & FAIR MARKETS INITIATIVE
The Free & Fair Markets Initiative (FFMI) is a nonprofit watchdog committed to scrutinizing Amazon’s harmful practices and promoting a fair, modern marketplace that works for all Americans. For more information on the Free & Fair Markets Initiative, click here.