Boulder-based Popsockets spends millions keeping fakes off the market

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BOULDER, Colo. - Counterfeit products are a huge problem online, but Amazon has just launched a new program to tackle the issue.

That’s good news to David Barnett, the founder and CEO of Boulder-based PopSockets.  The company makes wildly popular expanding and collapsing grips for phones and they have patents for their products.  They sold 100 million units in five years, but it hasn’t been easy, because they are in constant legal battles over counterfeits and knock-offs.

Barnett believes the problem is mostly under control in the US, but says it was a big problem a year ago.  “Hundreds, sometimes thousands would pop up in a day on eBay, Amazon,” he said.  “We were probably losing every other sale to fakes.”

So the company worked with Amazon to clean up their corner of the marketplace.  They hired 40 law firms around the world to enforce their patents, but it’s expensive.  Just last year the company spent $7 million defending its patents and trademark.

Some businesses don’t have the means to do that, so Barnett says he is glad to see that Amazon is starting a new program called Project Zero.  It’s an effort to drive counterfeits to zero by continuously scanning the stores, and allowing brands to remove counterfeit listings by themselves.

“These are products using the brand’s name. So it would be a fake PopSockets grip with the word PopSockets on it.  It would allow us to just take it down, and report it to Amazon after we take it down, to increase the speed of action,” he said.

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