Turning up the heat on counterfeiters with 360-degree protection

“Amazon is definitely paving the way in how to tackle counterfeiting and ensure the best experience for our customers.”

Geri Datus-Ward
Director of Digital Marketing and e-commerce at Weber

A great idea goes global

From back gardens to campsites, parties to picnics, barbecues across the world are synonymous with the brand Weber. Wherever families and friends gather to enjoy each other’s company and delicious food, there’s a good chance the cooking will be done on one of the brand’s iconic lidded kettles or gas grills.

The Weber Original Kettle Grill features a unique shape that goes back to its creator, George Stephen Sr., who came up with the innovative design while working at a metalworks factory in Chicago. One day he decided to experiment by chopping a metal buoy in half and adding air vents and legs. When he took his creation home for testing, his neighbours and friends were perplexed at first. But once they had their first bite of steak grilled on the kettle, George’s new invention became the talk of the town.

In a few short years, he expanded his barbecue business, forevermore changing how America, and soon the world, would think about cooking outdoors.

Entering the online marketplace

Weber initially focused their marketing and sales efforts on brick-and-mortar stores. In the mid-to-late 2000s, however, the brand fully embraced e-commerce channels. Selling on Amazon was a key part of that strategy.

“Amazon is more than just a sales channel,” Geri Datus-Ward, Director of Digital Marketing and e-commerce explains. “Something like 60–65% of customers begin their research on Amazon, even if they don’t purchase there. In that sense, Amazon acts as a consumer connection point for us, as well as a marketplace.”

Partnering with Amazon

But for all its advantages, selling online has also had its own set of challenges, particularly for a brand as iconic and popular as Weber. By late 2017, the brand’s e-commerce team noticed a decrease in online sales revenue for their grill covers, and an uptick in negative reviews due to poor-quality or defective grill covers.

The team suspected counterfeiting. After conducting some test buys from various e-commerce channels, they realised that some covers bearing the Weber trademark were indeed counterfeit.

Fortunately for Weber, in Amazon they found a partner committed to attacking the counterfeit problem.

Weber quickly signed up for Brand Registry – Amazon’s foundational brand protection programme – which unlocks a suite of tools designed to help build and protect brands. Once a brand enrols and provides information specific to their brand, Amazon immediately activates proactive protections that stop infringing listings and inaccurate content.

The Weber team loaded their applicable trademarks into Brand Registry and then continued to conduct test buys. When their in-house product experts suspected a counterfeit, they used the Report a Violation tool to alert Amazon. Quickly, they began to see positive results.
Chicago, IL
Grill and barbecue
Brand Registry

Project Zero


Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU)

The next level of counterfeit protection

Over time, Weber tried some of Amazon’s more advanced counterfeit protection programmes, such as Project Zero.

They were particularly interested in Project Zero’s self-service counterfeit removal tool, which allows brands to immediately remove counterfeit listings, without the need to contact Amazon.

Furthermore, the Weber team felt that having access to Project Zero as part of their brand protection toolkit furthered their collaboration with Amazon. “After using Brand Registry for a while and then using Project Zero, we have built up a lot of mutual trust with Amazon,” says Geri.

When comparing the efficiency and effectiveness of Project Zero with tools available on other e-commerce sites, Geri comments that Project Zero is unique. “No other platform or marketplace provides anything like Project Zero to brand owners.”
When we first started using Project Zero, we were just so amazed at how quickly we could take action when we identified a problem.
Geri Datus-WardDirector of Digital Marketing and e-commerce

Introducing Transparency

When Weber heard about Transparency, a unit-level product serialisation programme that helps prevent the listing, sale and shipment of inaccurate or counterfeit products, they were interested to learn more.

They thought Transparency’s proactive approach to counterfeit prevention would be a good addition to their brand protection strategy.

“We decided to enrol all new products that are in our accessory portfolio into the Transparency programme,” explains Geri. “We have been really pleased with the results so far, and are looking to eventually enrol more of our catalogue.”

Holding bad actors accountable

Wanting to get to the root cause of the counterfeit issue and hold bad actors accountable, Weber decided to take things one step further. They partnered with the Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU), which works closely with brands to stop counterfeiters by conducting investigations, referring cases to law enforcement and pursuing litigation.

In 2021, Weber and the CCU took joint legal action against 12 bad actors who were selling products illegally bearing the WEBER® registered trademark.

“The CCU team had experience in trying these cases and tracking all the breadcrumbs we would need to find these bad actors,” explains Geri. “They know how they hide their identities and methods of payment. And with their help, we were able to find them and file lawsuits against them.”

In speaking about the lawsuits, Kebharu Smith, Director of Amazon’s Counterfeit Crimes Unit, said, “If counterfeiters attempt to sell in our store, they don’t just break the law and violate the rights of companies like Weber, they mislead consumers. In the rare instances when counterfeiters are able to bypass our enforcement tools and teams, we will find them and hold them fully accountable.”

All-round brand protection

Amazon has created a suite of brand protection tools to meet the various needs of brands. While each brand is different, for Weber, a holistic brand protection strategy worked.

By offering robust tools that have become central to Weber’s online strategy, the brand sees Amazon as an effective ally when it comes to protecting their brand.

“We love having Amazon right next to our name on our brand protection efforts. It’s really powerful. Amazon’s tools are so robust, especially compared to other marketplaces. Our investments in protecting our brand on Amazon are some of the best moves we’ve ever made.”

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