Progress is being made with online marketplaces, but the Toy Association says there are many issues still to resolve.
As the Covid-19 pandemic accelerates the growth of online shopping, the fight against unsafe counterfeit toys sold through eCommerce platforms is more urgent than ever – and a top priority issue for The US Toy Association and its member companies.
“The Toy Association and its Intellectual Property Committee relentlessly advocates for the removal of dangerous, non-compliant counterfeit toys and play products from online marketplaces,” Steve Pasierb, president & CEO of The Toy Association, told Toy World. “Our concerted actions have contributed to important progress, including the introduction of legislation placing clear requirements on marketplaces and sellers; the publication of a Department of Homeland Security Report echoing many of our proposed solutions; and better cooperation, communication, and collaboration with major online marketplaces. However, there are still many issues to resolve.”
According to Steve, a number of urgent measures still need to be taken by online marketplaces to address the safety risks posed by counterfeits, which unfortunately continue to proliferate online, putting millions of vulnerable children at risk.
These proposed solutions are outlined in The Toy Association’s recently published white paper, “Taking Fake Toys Offline: A 2020 Focus on Proactive Measures to Reduce Counterfeits and Unsafe Toys Sold on Online Marketplaces”. Suggested measures include requiring online marketplaces to thoroughly screen products and sellers; giving the presumption to the rights holder by delisting a product (even temporarily) upon notification of infringement and appropriately placing the burden on the seller; and requiring marketplaces to better educate consumers on how to make sound purchasing decisions and avoid falling victim to counterfeit products.
Steve believes that online marketplaces could do more to address the situation: “Illicit sellers and their goods must be stopped before reaching consumers’ homes, and online marketplaces have the ability to do so – and therefore must be held accountable. What’s more, in its current state, the US. doctrine of secondary trademark infringement is inadequate, and lacks clear standards for holding online marketplaces liable for counterfeit goods sold by others on their platforms. It must therefore be updated to meet the realities of eCommerce in 2021 and beyond.”
Until bad actors are stopped, there are steps toy companies can take to help protect their brands:
- Register all trademarks, copyrights, and patents with the appropriate authorities in their country, along with advising them of which entities have been authorised to import genuine product.
- Aggressively pursue violators with cease-and-desist letters and/or lawsuits (where appropriate), and frequently monitor online marketplaces for counterfeit product.
- Have a strong online presence (at minimum, a website that lists certified retailers/websites where products can be purchased).
- Advertise the safety of their brands online (google searches, etc.), and provide consumers with information on how to identify and discern their compliant product from non-compliant counterfeits.
- Make their voices heard with elected representatives by advocating for greater legal responsibility for online marketplaces.
In 2021, The Toy Association and its members will focus anti-counterfeiting efforts in areas of greatest impact; working to pass federal legislation, enhancing consumer awareness of the safety risks associated with purchasing counterfeit toys and collaborating with various government agencies to help educate and train them on identifying and stopping counterfeits entering the US.
For more information about The Toy Association and its advocacy work to protect and promote the toy industry, visit www.ToyAssociation.org.