Warren calls for Amazon breakup | TheHill

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The Hill 14 October, 2021 - 06:42am

Investigation confirms Amazon steals ideas, search traffic from brands for own-brand copies - MSPoweruser

MSPoweruser 14 October, 2021 - 10:12am

Amazon has long been suspected of using their home-field advantage to see which 3rd party products are popular with customers and then copying those products for their own-brand offerings.

Now an investigation by Reuters managed to uncover a trove of documents from Amazon India which appear to confirm those allegations.

They managed to get their hands on thousands of pages of internal Amazon documents including emails, strategy papers and business plans which confirms the company ran a systematic campaign of creating knockoffs and manipulating search results to boost its own product lines in India.

One 2016 strategy said the knock-offs should be  “in the first 2 or three … search results” when customers were shopping on Amazon.in.

The aim was to identify and target goods – described as “reference” or “benchmark” products – and “replicate” them.

Jeff Bezos has previously denied that Amazon uses this strategy, telling US Congress in sworn testimony that Amazon prohibits its employees from using the data on individual sellers to help its private-label business.

The leaked documents however show that two executives reviewed the India strategy – senior vice presidents Diego Piacentini, who has since left the company, and Russell Grandinetti, who currently runs Amazon’s international consumer business.

In a written response to questions for this report, Amazon said: “As Reuters hasn’t shared the documents or their provenance with us, we are unable to confirm the veracity or otherwise of the information and claims as stated. We believe these claims are factually incorrect and unsubstantiated.”

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Indian retailers demand probe on Amazon after report shows the e-commerce giant copied products

IOL 14 October, 2021 - 10:12am

The Reuters report, reviewing thousands of internal Amazon documents, found that the U.S. company ran a systematic campaign of creating knockoffs and manipulating search results to boost its own private brands in India, one of the company’s largest growth markets.

Wednesday's report showed for the first time that, at least in India, manipulating search results to favour Amazon’s own products, as well as copying other sellers’ goods, were part of a formal strategy at Amazon – and that at least two senior executives had reviewed it.

Linking to the story on Twitter, Warren, a long-time critic of Amazon, said "these documents show what we feared about Amazon’s monopoly power — that the company is willing and able to rig its platform to benefit its bottom line while stiffing small businesses and entrepreneurs."

"This is one of the many reasons we need to break it up," she said.

A group representing millions of India's brick-and-mortar retailers said on Thursday the country's government must launch an investigation into Amazon.

"Amazon is causing a great disadvantage to the small manufacturers. They are eating the cake that is not meant for them," Praveen Khandelwal of the Confederation of All India Traders told Reuters. The group says it represents 80 million retail stores in the country.

Indian retailers say foreign e-commerce businesses like Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart indulge in unfair business practices that hurt smaller firms, allegations the companies deny.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on reactions to the report.

In response to questions for Wednesday's report, Amazon said, "We believe these claims are factually incorrect and unsubstantiated". The company did not elaborate. It added that Amazon displays "search results based on relevance to the customer’s search query, irrespective of whether such products have private brands offered by sellers or not."

Warren, a prominent Democrat, advocated the breakup of Amazon and other tech giants in 2019 when she was running for president. Since then, as a senator from Massachusetts, she has continued to apply pressure on companies like Amazon.

In sworn testimony before Congress last year, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said the company prohibits its employees from using data on individual sellers to help its private-label business. And, in 2019, another Amazon executive testified that the company does not use such data to create its own private-label products or alter its search results to favour them.

The Amazon documents reviewed by Reuters showed how the company's private-brands team in India secretly exploited internal data from its India unit to copy products sold by other companies, then offered them on its platform.

The company promoted sales of its private brands like AmazonBasics by rigging search results on its platform in India so that its products would appear, as one 2016 strategy report put it, “in the first 2 or three … search results.”

The Alliance of Digital India Foundation, a non-profit representing some of India’s biggest startups, said the practices detailed in the Reuters report were "highly deplorable", calling into question "the credibility of Amazon as a good faith operator in the Indian startup ecosystem".

In a blog post, the group urged the Indian government to take action against “Amazon’s predatory playbook of copying, rigging and killing Indian brands”.

A top official in the economic wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological parent of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party, urged consumers to shun the company on Thursday.

"I call upon people of this country to #boycottAmazon,” Ashwani Mahajan, co-convenor of Swadeshi Jagran Manch, said on Twitter.

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Internal documents prove Amazon intentionally rips off rival products

Input 13 October, 2021 - 03:08pm

Thousands of pages reviewed by Reuters directly contradict past claims made by Jeff Bezos and other Amazon execs.

Amazon has been caught in the act. Again. According to a new, extensive investigation from Reuters, the retail and big tech giant is consistently mimicking competitors’ products, down to who manufactures the items, and then manipulating search results to boost its in-house knock-offs to customers.

This directly contradicts sworn statements made by former Amazon CEO and space bro, Jeff Bezos, while speaking to Congress last year. At the time, Bezos alleged that Amazon employees were prohibited from accessing third-party seller data to bolster the company’s “private-label” alternatives.

Reviewing thousands of pages of internal documents from Amazon India that stretch back years, stealing product designs was part of a “formal, clandestine strategy” at the company, one that “high level” execs even knew about and endorsed. This is the second recent Amazon exposé from Reuters, which also revealed the company’s secretive partnerships with major brands to circumvent small business protections in India. The report helped kickstart antitrust investigations within the nation, with reverberations felt in similar probes across the globe.

That’s sensible business right there. But the problem comes when the company allegedly relied on its rivals’ product data to expressly mimic their items, along with working with the same manufacturers to produce nearly identical alternatives it could sell for less.

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