Donald Trump has ordered a crackdown on the sale of counterfeit products through third-party online marketplaces and is seeking more information on how to best tackle the growing problem.
This comes just days after a Chinese national was apprehended at the US President’s Mar-a-lago resort with four smartphones and a USB key stuffed with “malicious malware” in her possession. The memo signed by Trump claims global trade in counterfeits could reach half a trillion dollars per year, with 20% of this directly infringing upon US intellectual property.
A White House advisor said: “The president has decided it is time to clean up this Wild West of counterfeiting and trafficking,”
Although the memo didn’t name any specific online marketplaces, the largest and best-known would naturally fall under its remit. Amazon, the largest internet company in existence, quickly replied: “Amazon invests heavily in proactive measures to prevent counterfeit goods from ever reaching our stores. In 2018 alone, we spent over $400M fighting counterfeits, fraud, and other forms of abuse.”
So too, Alibaba, the world’s fifth largest online retailer: “Alibaba has developed best-in-class systems to protect IP and battle the scourge of counterfeiting. We look forward to further advancing the working relationship and cooperation that we have with the U.S. federal agencies mentioned in today’s order, as well as with our global commerce peers.”
These latest developments may form part of the ongoing trade battle with China. While protecting intellectual property is driving the move, preventing counterfeit smartphones from entering the US would have other benefits , including consumer health and safety and the efficient functioning of mobile networks in the country. There’s also Tax & Excise losses where imported counterfeits impinge on legitimate sales.
Trump has ordered the Homeland Security Department to work with the departments of Commerce and Justice to provide recommendations within 210 days.