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White House calls for crackdown on counterfeit goods

The White House issued a memorandum on April 3 warning consumers about counterfeit and pirated goods. It focused on third party web sites, marketplaces and intermediaries that traffic in counterfeit and pirated goods. These include sites such as Alibaba, eBay and Amazon, which announced a Project Zero plan in February to utilize machine learning to detect fake or counterfeit products and allow brands to remove listings themselves.

The White House memo goes on to say that “preventing the manufacture, importation, and sale of counterfeit and pirated goods is a priority for federal law enforcement agencies.” According to CNN, this is the Trump administration’s warning, telling these companies to stop trafficking in illegal goods or the government will intervene.

This memo directly refers to the role the internet has played in facilitating transactions involving counterfeit goods. The administration also calls for action against suppliers and information on the supply chain.

The memo directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to coordinate with the Commerce Department, the attorney general and others to release a report within 210 days after consulting with intellectual rights holders, the third-party intermediaries and others involved in IP issues.

With potentially millions of options for obtaining input, the task for the Secretary and the other agencies will be more than daunting. Moreover, it is unclear what the methodology will be for gathering the information.

Those with IP concerns should take pains to watch the Department of Homeland Security to monitor how its findings may impact upcoming laws or how to offer input as part of the report’s info gathering. They may also want to consult with experienced intellectual property attorneys to discuss how this report will affect their business.

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