Trump Pushes for Tighter Sanctions of Counterfeits Sold Online

Just in time for Amazon Prime Day — along with a host of competitors offering online shopping deals — President Trump is cracking down on counterfeit trafficking by way of e-commerce platforms, such as Amazon and eBay.  

On Tuesday, Trump signed a memorandum asking the executive branch to exercise tighter control over online shopping sites in the U.S. that offer third-party selling. The proposed set of sanctions would give the Secretary of Homeland Security, through the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the right to seize counterfeit goods imported to the U.S. on e-commerce platforms, while imposing fines on said e-commerce sites. Trump also recommended the government pursue legislation that would strengthen the executive branch’s authority over the matter. 

“Trafficking in counterfeit goods infringes on the intellectual property rights of American companies, undermines their competitiveness and harms American workers,” the memorandum stated. “Counterfeit trafficking also poses significant health and safety threats to online consumers. E-commerce platforms serve as key contributors to counterfeit trafficking by acting as intermediaries and providing marketplaces that match up buyers and sellers.”

The Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General have 120 days to develop a legislative proposal backing the memorandum.  

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American Apparel & Footwear Association’s president and chief executive officer Steve Lamar expressed support for the proposed legislation, emphasizing the need for greater transparency on e-commerce sites as the popularity of online shopping continues to skyrocket during the health crisis.

“The fight against fake consumer goods is about far more than lost sales and brand reputation,” Lamar said. “Counterfeit products expose consumers to a range of potential product safety hazards. We continue to push e-commerce platforms to prioritize the sale of authentic product and to increase their vetting process for third-party sellers this holiday season and into the year ahead. We look forward to detailed proposals to further reconcile this incredibly concerning, ongoing and increasingly prevalent issue.”

In January, U.S. Customs and Border Protection launched a pilot program with marketplaces and shipping services, such as Amazon, Zulily, eBay and FedEx — all of which volunteered for the program — to disclose information on shipments, package contents, manufacturing and recipient details.   

Meanwhile, some fashion companies and brands have simply stopped selling products on third-party platforms in an effort to restrict fakes. In November 2019, Nike, for example, said it would no longer sell products directly to Amazon.

Amazon and eBay did not respond to requests for comment. 

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