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Monday March 12, 2018

GAO Gives Advice to Regulators for Attacking Counterfeits

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) in late February made two recommendations for improving how the government deals with unsafe counterfeits. Those ideas were aimed at Customs and Border Protection (CBP), but the report (bit.ly/2I2IF4G) called out CPSC – with FBI, FDA, and ICE – as among "nearly 20 U.S. agencies [that] play a role in IPR enforcement."

 

The recommendations:

  • CBP should develop a process for better sharing of information about its activities at the ports as well as looking at better metrics for tracking its IPR activities.
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  • CBP should look into how it can share more information with the private sector. This could go as far as seeking additional authorities from Congress or regulatory revisions.

These ideas stem from the GAO's conclusion that:

"Managing the huge volume of both legitimate and counterfeit goods entering the country requires efficient use of resources. Without better information on the effectiveness of its activities, CBP may not be able to focus its resources on the most efficient or effective efforts…Without collecting and disseminating effective practices resulting from port-led initiatives, CBP may be missing an opportunity to scale up or improve on existing efforts."

The report also notes the growth of e-commerce and concluded that web platforms could play a role in aiding enforcement. It further includes numerous evaluations such as how fakes are moving from being secondary-market products to primary.

 

Three factors play roles: counterfeits now appear more authentic, they are less likely to be suspiciously underpriced, and more come from e-commerce (including via well-known, authentic platforms) rather than, for example, from street vendors or flea markets.

 

One appendix is a list of tips to consumers. One to report the product to CPSC's saferproduct.gov database if it is dangerous.