AAFA joins other groups urging action against Xuar forced labor

Posted January 28, 2021


WASHINGTON, D.C. –The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America (FDRA), National Retail Federation (NRF), Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and The United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) on January 27 submitted a letter to House and Senate Leadership of the 117 Congress, reiterating zero tolerance for forced labor and urging Congress to take quick, clear, implementable and decisive action on the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).


The letter further urges Congress to ensure that any action is part of a broader U.S.-led global strategy to end forced labor in the XUAR and the larger campaign of oppression it fuels. 


The letter states that, collectively the members of the undersigned associations are:


  • Continuously strengthening the measures they take to identify and eliminate forced labor from their supply chains, particularly when forced labor becomes more widespread in a specific region due to structural policies, as is the case in XUAR;

  • Investigating new technologies and implementing innovative approaches to decipher where supply chains are susceptible to forced labor; and

  • In support of new actions that will build upon current efforts.

The letter urges Congress to take action that:


  • Requires the development of a transparent, tiered, risk-based approach to enforcement of any new forced labor provisions before implementation of those provisions;

  • Creates a clear, transparent, and evidence-based process for implementing both current and future regulations;

  • Promotes the development and implementation of cost-effective technologies and innovative approaches for traceability; and

  • Establishes the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act as a federal disclosure requirement on what companies are doing to prevent forced labor and human trafficking in their supply chains.

The letter dated January 27 is available for download.


Comments on counterfeit online sales submitted


Separately, the AAFA submitted comments to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) regarding secondary trademark infringement liability in the e-commerce setting. Given the staggering and simultaneous growth in the share of sales by e-commerce, online sales of fake products are a major contributor to the observed growth in total counterfeit sales. These comments call for legislation to hold online platforms liable for counterfeit goods sold on their sites. 


“The foundation of our trademark system predates e-commerce and is not equipped to address the online counterfeiting issues experienced today. While brick-and-mortar stores are generally liable for the products they sell, the same cannot be said about large online third-party marketplaces,” said Steve Lamar, president and CEO of the AAFA. “Current law does not adequately incentivize third-party marketplaces to take the steps necessary to keep counterfeits off their platforms. Further, this lack of liability results in limited efforts by online platforms to proactively monitor for counterfeits, moving the cost and burden to our members. This landscape makes it difficult for our member brands to pursue trademark infringement claims against these online platforms who facilitate the sale of fake product."


“The proliferation of counterfeits is becoming a crisis due to the expansion of online third-party marketplaces. This is why AAFA strongly believes that it is necessary to pursue changes to the application of the secondary infringement standards to online platforms,” added Christina Mitropoulos, AAFA’s head of Brand Protection & Manufacturing Initiatives.


Fighting the sale of counterfeits online is a key policy priority for AAFA. Today’s submission follows an earlier submission to the USPTO calling for a consumer awareness campaign to alert Americans to the dangers and prevalence of counterfeit product on trusted online marketplaces and social media platforms. This follows AAFA’s submission to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative as part of its review of Notorious Markets which listed many online third-party marketplaces as sources of counterfeit product; that submission is available for download.


Source: AAFA

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