Combating the Sale of Counterfeit Goods Online

March 6, 2020
Representative Roby's Weekly Column

Online shopping has become an everyday occurrence for millions of Americans. By ordering products online, people have almost endless opportunities for purchases all while saving time in their daily lives. Plus, you can have your purchases delivered right to your door in a matter of days. This method of shopping has become increasingly popular, especially for Americans who are balancing the responsibilities of family and career. No matter what type of product you are buying, the safety and reliability of that product is important. As online shopping has become more prominent in today’s culture, the sale of counterfeit goods has become a growing issue around the world.

I have always said if it is illegal in the real world, then it should also be illegal online. Consumers should feel the same confidence and assurance buying a product from an online platform as they do when they buy a product in store. Counterfeit sellers commonly take advantage of online platforms to appear as legitimate sellers, therefore causing consumers to naively purchase ingenuine products. There are bad actors we must be aware of in every industry, but the bad actors who are selling counterfeit goods have an easier time getting away with these harmful actions as they are able to hide behind an online veil.

I am grateful to serve as Co-Chair of the Congressional Trademarks Caucus. I have dedicated my efforts during my time in Congress to propose solutions to this pressing issue. Last summer, I participated in a roundtable event with several companies and online platforms as well as lawmakers to discuss ways to block online counterfeit goods from flowing into the United States. It is critically important that we get this right in order to protect consumers and brands from these health and safety hazards.

I recently co-sponsored a bipartisan piece of legislation called the Stopping Harmful Offers on Platforms by Screening Against Fakes in E-Commerce (SHOP SAFE) Act with Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Representative Doug Collins (R-GA), and Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA). The SHOP SAFE Act protects consumers and businesses from the sale of counterfeit goods online and incentivizes e-commerce platforms to adopt best practices in order to decrease the sale of these goods.

Counterfeit products directly impact not only brands but consumers as well. The circulation of these products poses serious threats to Americans’ public health and safety. Consumer lives are at risk due to the sale of these dangerous products, and it is our job as Members of Congress to create accountability for these online platforms in order to prevent counterfeit products from entering American homes. E-commerce platforms must take fraud seriously and remain accountable for any fake goods sold on their sites. We must do what we can to help combat the sale of these harmful products.

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