3 March 2020TrademarksRory O'Neill

Make e-commerce platforms liable for counterfeits, say US legislators

US lawmakers have proposed a bill to make e-commerce platforms liable for counterfeit goods listed on their platforms.

Known as the ‘ Shop Safe Act’, the bill would place liability for trademark infringement on e-commerce platforms where a third-party sells counterfeit goods that pose a risk to consumer health and safety, and where that platform “does not follow certain best practices”.

The best practices include vetting sellers, removing counterfeit listings, and removing sellers who repeatedly sell counterfeit goods.

Jerrold Nadler, a Democratic congressman from New York and chair of the House Judiciary Committee who is co-sponsoring the bill, said it was “clear more must be done to combat the rising trend in online sales of counterfeit products”.

“Consumers should be able to trust that what they see and purchase online is what they will get, but counterfeiters continue to join platforms with ease and masquerade as reliable sellers in order to infect American households with dangerous and unsafe counterfeit products,” Nadler added.

Co-sponsor Hank Johnson, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Courts, IP and the Internet, said counterfeits pose “significant threats to consumer health and safety and have devastating impacts on businesses”.

“Platforms must do their part in ensuring that their sellers are reliable and that their products are authentic,” Johnson added.

US President Donald Trump has made counterfeit goods from China a recurring theme of his tenure.

In January, Trump signed an executive order instructing the Department of Homeland Security to put greater pressure on e-commerce platforms, carriers, and consignment operators over the importation of counterfeit goods to the US.

“President Trump and [trade adviser] Peter Navarro have taken great strides to address counterfeit issues, and the Shop Safe Act will help achieve their goals,” said Doug Collins, a Republican congressman backing the bill.

The fourth co-sponsor of the bill is Martha Roby, a member of the House IP subcommittee.

“Counterfeit products directly impact brands and consumers while also posing serious dangers to public health and safety. It is critically important that we combat the sale of these harmful products online," said Roby.

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Jurisdiction reports
27 April 2020   Although the introduction of the IP register of the Eurasian Customs Union is already established, the member states have so far failed to implement it in practice. Therefore, trademarks still have to be separately registered in all national customs registers of the Eurasian Customs Union member states, including Russia.
4 March 2020   Global financial services and products provider S&P Global is suing call centre group S&P Data for multiple trademark infringements, arguing the ‘S&P’ element of the name is likely to cause confusion.
16 April 2020   A Virginian court has denied Amazon’s attempts to compel arbitration, dismiss and venue transfer in a suit accusing the online platform of counterfeiting and infringement.