US Tells E-commerce Giants to Shape-up

US Tells E-commerce Giants to Shape-up

(JANUARY 27, 2020) Hot on the heels of the US-China phase one trade deal that included steps to deal with intellectual property theft, the Trump administration is now putting pressure on e-commerce firms to deal with counterfeits.

A Department of Home Affairs (DHS) 54-page report released on 24 January details the extent of counterfeit listings and products available online. Combating Trafficking in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods stated: “The problem has intensified to staggering levels, as shown by a recent OECD report, which details a 154% increase in counterfeits traded internationally – from $200 billion in 2005 to $509 billion in 2016.”

The report also used Amazon’s own words as evidence of the scale of the problem, revealing that the online giant has prevented one million suspected bad actors from publishing a single product through its platform and blocked over three million suspected counterfeit listings.

The government will put the onus back on companies such as Amazon, JD.com, Alibaba, eBay, Walmart, etc to deal more effectively with the problem and make them liable for fake products sold via third-party sellers on their platforms. Under a modernised Customs and Border Protection regulatory framework, this liability now stretches to include domestic warehouses and fulfilment centres which will be treated as the “ultimate consignee for any good that has not been sold to a specific consumer at the time of its importation”.

The DHS has recommended several private sector e-commerce best practices which include country of origin disclosures, marketplace seller IDs, effective notice and takedown procedures and significantly enhanced vetting of third-party sellers. - (OPI)