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Sunday, February 16, 2020

Trump Administration Expected to Crack Down on Marketplace Sites in New Counterfeit-Centric Memo

Almost 10 months after Donald Trump signed a memo aimed at combatting the import of counterfeit goods into the U.S., with an emphasis on “third-party online marketplaces,” including “Alibaba, Amazon, and eBay,” and less than two weeks after reports that the $1 trillion behemoth that is Amazon will do more to prevent the sale of fakes on its sites, the Trump administration released its official plan to cut down on the ever-increasing counterfeit trade. 




A booming industry, the total trade in counterfeit and pirated goods tops $1.5 trillion across the globe, according to the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition. Counterfeit and pirated goods, as well as trade secret theft, cost the U.S. economy, alone, as much as $600 billion a year, or 3 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, Steve Shapiro, the unit chief for the FBI's intellectual property rights unit told CNBC.
Given the jurisdictional issues when it comes to counterfeit sellers (most are located outside of the U.S.) and other practical roadblocks at play, the fight against fakes is a complex one. “Foreign sellers face little risk of prosecution,” an administration official told Reuters. As such, strong U.S. government action "is necessary to fundamentally realign incentive structures." 
Speaking to CNBC on the heels of the signing of Phase One of Trump’s trade deal with China this month, which follows from claims of rampant infringement of American intellectual property by Chinese entities, Peter Navarro, the Director of the National Trade Council at the White House, revealed that as of now, “if you’re an intellectual property rights holder, whether you’re Michael Kors or Louis Vuitton or Pfizer selling prescription drugs, the onus is really on your company to police the internet, where a lot of this counterfeiting occurs.” 
“That’s not right,” according to Navarro, who says that “the Amazons and the Alibabas, Shopify” – which “have been facilitators of the Chinese counterfeiting” – need to act on their “responsibility to police the problem.” He further noted that sites like “Amazon and eBay” are “making a bunch of money … selling this counterfeit stuff,” without “accepting [their] full responsibility,” which is almost certainly a reference to marketplace sites’ recurring attempt to disclaim liability by asserting that they are not the “sellers” in such equations but merely middlemen. This is what Amazon argued in a recent case over the sale of a defective dog leash that a consumer purchased from its site. 
That case – which could have sweeping impacts for Amazon and its vas third-party marketplace – is still underway, with a Third Circuit Court of Appeals hearing en banc expected this year.  
As for the Trump administration’s latest counterfeit-specific plan, on Friday, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Strategy, Policy & Plans released a report entitled, “Combatting Trafficking in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods,” stating that at the forefront of the “best practices for private sector stakeholders” is “the idea that e-commerce platforms, online third-party marketplaces, and other third-party intermediaries such as customs brokers and express consignment carriers must take a more active role in monitoring, detecting, and preventing trafficking in counterfeit and pirated goods.” 
An increased focus on the crack down on counterfeits will be a welcome development for fashion and luxury brands, in particular, which is a particularly hard-hit segment of the market when it comes to the scale of the manufacturing and sale of counterfeits. After all, luxury goods are amongst the most commonly affected, with fake luxury products – from logo-bearing sunglasses to fake leather goods and shoes – accounting for “between 60 to 70 percent” of the total sales of counterfeit goods, per Harvard Business Review, “ahead of pharmaceuticals and entertainment products and representing perhaps [the equivalent of] one quarter of the estimated $1.2 trillion total trade in authentic luxury goods.”
With that in mind and given the need for luxury brands, in particular, to maintain the image of exclusivity associated with their valuable trademarks, brands routinely spend tens of millions of dollars each year to police unauthorizes uses of their trademarks. HBR reported in May that LVMH Mo√ęt Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the parent company to 75 luxury goods brands, including fashion houses like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Givenchy, and Celine, “employs at least 60 lawyers and spends $17 million annually on anti-counterfeiting legal action.” 
All the while, luxury titans have been busy lobbying governments “to extend enforcement bodies’ powers to seize and destroy fake goods, and to block access to websites that sell counterfeit goods,” per HBR. If the impending memo is any indication, the Trump administration is willing to up the ante. oa here
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Monday, October 7, 2019

How a fake car parts scam could cost drivers thousands

Luxury items aren't the only things that are counterfeited

Counterfeit spark plugs with the potential to destroy engines are at the centre of an automotive industry sting.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries says 60 per cent of spark plugs bought through dodgy online sellers have been verified as fraudulent parts designed to fool consumers.
Expert recreations of packaging and part appearances mean people may not know parts are fake until cars stop working.
A spokesman for the FCAI says spark plugs sold as genuine Honda, Mazda or Toyota items have the potential to “melt and cause extreme engine damage”.
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Mazda and Honda owners have been targeted by the scam. Source: Supplied
But representatives of those popular car brands said they had no record of fake spark plugs ruining engines in recent months.
The problematic parts follow a run of fake components seized in Australia including wheels that shatter when they hit a pothole, brake pads made of asbestos and oil filters that do not protect engines from damage.
Overseas examples include brake pads made from compressed grass.
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Counterfeit spark plugs (right) can be indistinguishable from genuine items (left). Source: Supplied
Tony Weber, chief executive for the FCAI, says motorists and technicians should be careful when sourcing automotive parts.
“The best way to avoid a fake? Make certain your parts are purchased from the authorised dealer network,” Mr Weber said.
“We have experts examining the packaging and spark plugs and even they can barely tell the difference. You won’t know it’s a fake, until it’s too late.”

oa here 
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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Border Patrol seized fake NBA championship rings valued at $560,000


 The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency busted a counterfeit shipment of National Basketball Association championship rings at Los Angeles International Airport. This crackdown comes before the sport’s pre-season start on Sept. 30.


 Photo credit Fox News
In a press release sent out Wednesday, the federal agency reported there were 28 rings seized that violated protected trademarks and designs for 11 NBA teams. The report also noted that if found genuine, the seized rings would have an approximate manufacturer suggested retail price of $560,000.
The discovery was made by U.S. CBP officers working in the airport’s cargo operations department. During an enforcement exam, the officers found the shipment had arrived from China and had a final destination in Arizona. 
 Photo Credit Fox News

“The rings were found inside of a wooden box, with the apparent intent to be sold as a collection,” the report elaborated. “The quantity and estimated MSRP value of counterfeit items seized are clear indications of the profits that are involved in the illegal trade of counterfeit NBA championship rings.”
This seizure valued at over half a million dollars comes at a time when businesses and the U.S. government are trying to curb intellectual property theft from china.
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