We owe it to consumers to stop counterfeits in their tracks

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As a working parent, our home became a school and an office; day turned into night, and we had to find ways to make it all work. As a result, many of us have turned to online ordering to save time, and many brands have made big investments to meet consumers where they are most comfortable.

What is concerning, however, is the astonishing prevalence of dangerous counterfeits lurking on a number of trusted and emerging e-commerce platforms. Governmentagency after agency continues to raise red flags about the dangers of counterfeits. In fact, the US Department of Homeland Security even dismantled aThe Islamic State website advertising fraudulent masks during the pandemic.

The American Apparel and Footwear Associationrecently worked with an international testing company to examine 47 seized counterfeit products, including handbags, cloth masks, accessories, shoes, clothing, and more. Of these products, 17 failed a basic chemical test and tested positive for lead, arsenic, phthalates, or other dangerous toxins. We are still analyzing the data and more details will come.

AAFA members go to great lengths to ensure product safety and quality and protect consumers’ financial information. They work around the clock to ensure manufacturers meet labor and environmental requirements. Counterfeiters don’t care about all that.

Small brick-and-mortar stores are required by law to only sell legitimate and safe products, otherwise they are held liable. Meanwhile, third party ONLINE marketplaces ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE when they sell counterfeit products that threaten the health and safety of consumers and their families.

counterfeiters are the criminals. A brand protection manager chronicled a TED conference how counterfeit handbags fund terrorism and organized crime. A recent report found that the counterfeiters’ accounts active on social platforms were mainly based in China, Russia and Turkey. It is clear that “The illicit economy, whether in the form of human trafficking, arms smuggling, counterfeitmoney laundering, cybercrime or the illegal wildlife trade, is a force that robs the stability of communities, causes corruption, affects national security and destabilizes the lives of so many people around the world. » We need to stop criminals selling counterfeits online uncovering and removing counterfeits from third-party online platforms.

Dangerous counterfeits go beyond counterfeit clothes, shoes and bags. Counterfeits spread acrosstoys,car parts,Industriesand international borders. Criminals selling counterfeit products online rob consumers of financial data, steal much-needed revenue governmentsanddestabilize societies. Counterfeits threaten the health and safety of American consumers, steal American jobs, increase costs for consumers, and hinder American innovation and creativity.

Estimates show that counterfeits fly close to$131 billionthe U.S. economy, with $22.3 billion in lost income for American workers, 325,542 fewer U.S. jobs, $5.6 billion in lost federal tax revenue, and nearly $4 billion in state tax revenue and lost premises.

In short, counterfeit products are un-American and hurt America’s bottom line.

E-commerce and social media platforms can and should prioritize and establish algorithms protect consumers from the promotion and sale of counterfeits online. Fortunately, policymakers have the opportunity to make real and impactful changes to protect consumers and brands.

Two complementary bills are before Congress to combat counterfeits: the SHOP SAFE Act (SHOP SAFELY) and the INFORM consumer law. Both bills are bicameral, bipartisan and have generated a wide range of support. Here’s why everyone is important and wears different protections:

  • SHOP SAFE and INFORM require online sellers to comply with the SAME long-established federal health and safety regulations that govern small, brick-and-mortar retailers.
  • SHOP SAFE sets scalable requirements based on e-commerce platforms and annual revenue generated.
  • SHOP SAFE demands the screening of illicit goods in e-commerce, better transparency of third-party sellers and the responsibility of online platforms that sell dangerous goods. More importantly, he holds online platforms contributorily accountable if they do not put in place the best practices to prevent the sale of counterfeit products endangering the health and safety of the consumer.
  • SHOP SAFE specifically includes an exemption for small sales or personal sales.
  • INFORM is modernizing national consumer protection laws and better equipping law enforcement officials to prosecute organized theft rings that have made selling counterfeit goods online a business.

Without SHOP SAFE, e-commerce platforms are not held responsible. Without INFORM, law enforcement lacks vital tools to prosecute criminals. Both are necessary.

We call on Congress to advance these vital elements in the America COMPETES Act.No seller or platform of legitimate products should oppose ANY effort to stop the sale of dangerous counterfeits, especially at this time.

jennifer hank is the principal advocate and spokesperson for the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) on intellectual property and brand protection issues and liaising staff with the AFOA Brand Protection Council. AAFA represents more than 1,000 world-renowned brands, three million American workers in the apparel and footwear industry, and its contribution of more than $350 billion to annual retail sales in the United States .

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