Trump memo seeks stiff penalties for counterfeiting

President Donald Trump has asked for legislative proposals to be drawn up that would make e-commerce companies accountable for counterfeit goods sales through fines and civil penalties.

The memo directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to draw up plans within 120 days to boost seizures of counterfeit goods imported into the US in connection with a transaction on an e-commerce platform.

It also seeks “maximum fines and civil penalties permitted by law” for any online retailer that facilitates that trade.

It is the latest broadside from the Trump administration against e-commerce platforms like Amazon, eBay and Wish that are accused of allowing trade in counterfeit goods to flourish on their platforms.

Earlier this year Trump, for example, signed an executive order for legislation that would force e-commerce sites – as well as third-party intermediaries such as customs brokers, fulfilment shippers, and express consignment carriers – take steps for monitoring, detecting, and preventing trafficking in counterfeit and pirated goods.

The latest memo on Stopping Counterfeit Trafficking on E-Commerce Platforms Through Fines and Civil Penalties has been welcomed by the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), whose members are particularly affected by counterfeiting.

“The fight against fake consumer goods is about far more than lost sales and brand reputation. Counterfeit products expose consumers to a range of potential product safety hazards,” said AAFA president Steve Lamar in a prepared statement.

“We continue to push e-commerce platforms to prioritise the sale of authentic product and to increase their vetting process for third-party sellers this holiday season and into the year ahead,” he added.

“We look forward to detailed proposals to further reconcile this incredibly concerning, ongoing, and increasingly prevalent issue.”

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