Lawmakers Propose Making E-Commerce Companies Liable for Counterfeits

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WASHINGTON — A team of bipartisan Residence lawmakers on Monday outlined a prepare to stem the flow of counterfeit products and solutions from China and other nations into the United States by making e-commerce companies this sort of as Amazon lawfully liable for fake products bought on their internet sites.

The proposed laws was a uncommon clearly show of bipartisanship in the Household of Representatives, which has been sharply divided after the impeachment of President Trump. But aggravation that large firms are not performing sufficient to safeguard American individuals from the potential risks of illicit merchandise coming from China is an difficulty that has galvanized Republicans and Democrats alike.

The monthly bill, termed the Shop Safe Act, would create trademark legal responsibility for firms offering counterfeit goods that pose hazards to buyer well being and protection, like prescription drugs and professional medical solutions. It would also force companies to much more rigorously vet sellers who run on their platforms and to take out counterfeit listings and individuals who regularly sell knockoffs.

“Consumer lives are at hazard due to the fact of perilous counterfeit goods that are flooding the on the net marketplace,” Representative Doug Collins, Republican of Georgia, reported in a assertion. “Congress should generate accountability to stop these harmful products from infiltrating the households of tens of millions of Individuals.”

Mr. Collins is co-sponsoring the monthly bill with Agent Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the Household Judiciary Committee, along with Agent Martha Roby, an Alabama Republican, and Agent Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat.

“Consumers should really be equipped to rely on that what they see and purchase on-line is what they will get, but counterfeiters go on to be a part of platforms with simplicity and masquerade as dependable sellers in buy to infect American households with unsafe and unsafe counterfeit items,” Mr. Nadler explained. He extra that the legislation would “tackle the gaps” in the latest vetting systems that e-commerce corporations use.

As component of the trade agreement among the United States and China this calendar year, China stated it would perform to combat copyright infringement and counterfeiting on e-commerce sites by penalizing nearby retailers that continuously offer fake goods.

Corporations like Amazon have commonly been exempt from authorized liability for products and solutions sold by other retailers utilizing their on the internet platforms. On the other hand, Amazon acknowledged very last yr that “civil or legal liability” for illegal routines by its sellers was a risk.

A report produced this calendar year by the Section of Homeland Protection proposed positioning a higher burden on e-commerce portals these types of as Amazon and Walmart.com by keeping them liable for faux or illicit solutions sold by 3rd-celebration sellers on their internet sites.

Peter Navarro, the director of the White Home Business of Trade and Producing Policy, who assisted oversee the suggestions, has been crucial of Amazon for profiting from counterfeits. He explained in January that “under existing lax interpretations of the regulation, e-commerce platforms confront just about no legal responsibility for their counterfeit trafficking.” Mr. Navarro has been performing, unsuccessfully, to established up conference with Jeff Bezos, the main govt of Amazon, to focus on counterfeit profits.

Amazon said at the time that its attempts to fight income of counterfeits had been “best in class,” but it acknowledged that there was extra do the job to be finished.

Mr. Collins mentioned the proposed legislation would assist Mr. Trump and Mr. Navarro realize their purpose of curbing counterfeits. The White Property is predicted to assistance the laws, but its pathway in the Senate is unclear.

In unveiling the invoice, the lawmakers noted that the Govt Accountability Business not too long ago identified that 20 of 47 merchandise obtained from 3rd-party sellers on popular shopper web sites have been counterfeit. Several of people items, which involve car seats, airbags and newborn components, pose lifetime-threatening dangers.

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