11 April 2019
Customs Brokers, Carriers, Others to be Scrutinised in Counterfeit Goods Initiative
President Trump has directed federal agencies to develop a plan to combat “the dangers and negative effects of counterfeit and pirated goods, including those that are imported” through third-party intermediaries such as on-line marketplaces, carriers, customs brokers, payment providers, vendors and others. A CQ article cites presidential trade advisor Peter Navarro as saying that the White House is seeking to “‘shift the burden’ of policing counterfeit products” to these entities.
A recent presidential memorandum states that counterfeit trafficking impairs U.S. economic competitiveness, cheats consumers, poses risks to public health and safety, and may threaten national security through the introduction of counterfeit goods destined for the U.S. Department of Defense and other critical infrastructure supply chains. As a result, the memo states that preventing the manufacture, importation and sale of counterfeit and pirated goods is a priority for federal law enforcement agencies.
While the memo encourages deeper partnerships with third-party intermediaries as part of an effort to expand and enhance federal efforts to deter on-line trafficking in counterfeit and pirated goods, it also allows for the possibility of tougher enforcement. In particular, the memo directs the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (in co-operation with the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and others) to submit to the president by 30 October a report evaluating current practices and policies and identifying possible improvements. Specific areas of focus include the following.
- the extent to which third-party intermediaries are used to facilitate the importation and sale of counterfeit and pirated goods and the factors that contribute to trafficking in such goods
- third-party intermediary practices that have been most effective in curbing the importation and sale of counterfeit and pirated goods
- the effectiveness of efforts by the United States and foreign governments
- categories of data that should be collected and possible changes to federal data collection practices
- administrative, statutory, regulatory or other changes, including enhanced enforcement actions, that could substantially reduce trafficking or promote more effective law enforcement
- guidance that agencies may provide to third-party intermediaries to help them prevent the importation and sale of counterfeit and pirated goods
- administrative, regulatory, legislative or policy changes that would enable agencies to more effectively share information regarding actual or suspected counterfeit and pirated goods with intellectual property rights holders, consumers and third-party intermediaries
- ways to make detection, interdiction, investigation and prosecution efforts more effective