AAFA supports bill to protect consumers from counterfeits
Posted March 25, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. –The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) applauded the introduction of the “Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers Act” (INFORM Consumers Act).
The bill aims to increase online marketplace transparency and accountability to combat the rapidly growing problem of counterfeit and stolen goods sold through these channels.
Introduced on March 23 by Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.) – cosponsored by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) – the INFORM Consumers Act would modernize consumer protection laws and require online marketplaces to collect and verify basic business information from sellers before those entities can sell online.
In addition, the legislation would require high-volume sellers to provide contact information to consumers. Removing seller anonymity on these platforms will create basic accountability measures that will help protect consumers from counterfeit goods and make it harder for criminals to profit from selling stolen or counterfeit merchandise.
“Transparency and accountability on the part of trusted online marketplaces is essential, especially in an age where e-commerce has become so important to providing affordable fashion. However, we currently see limited – and frankly insufficient – efforts by many online platforms when it comes to verifying the identities of sellers and monitoring for counterfeits,” said AAFA President and CEO Steve Lamar. “The burden to flag and seek removal of these counterfeits has unfairly fallen on our member brands. We expect to see online marketplaces vet - and proactively exclude - counterfeiters to protect invaluable intellectual property and the safety of consumers.”
AAFA’s active Brand Protection Council focuses on the global war against counterfeit apparel, footwear, accessories, and other supplier products. Recently, AAFA submitted comments to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, as part of the agency's review of secondary trademark infringement liability in the e-commerce setting. AAFA called for legislation to hold online platforms liable for counterfeit goods sold on their sites as part of this submission.
AAFA is also a member of the Buy Safe America Coalition, which represents a diverse group of responsible retailers, consumer groups, manufacturers, intellectual property advocates and law enforcement officials who support efforts at all levels of government to protect consumers and communities from the sale of counterfeit and stolen goods.
Throughout the pandemic, U.S. e-commerce grew by 44 percent as more families shopped online. Legislation, such as the INFORM Consumers Act, will help slow down the criminal networks targeting unsuspecting customers with the sale of stolen, counterfeit, expired, dangerous and defective products.