GAO Report Highlights Issue Of Counterfeit Products

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is recommending that federal law enforcement agencies enhance enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) following a GAO report on counterfeit products currently sold on leading e-commerce websites.

According to a newly released report, the GAO found that 20 of the 47 products it purchased from third-party sellers on popular consumer websites were counterfeit. Products were purchased in several categories including shoes, travel mugs, cosmetics and phone chargers. Of the nine travel mugs purchased, six were found to be counterfeit.

Noting that counterfeit products are a potential risk to consumers, the GAO report also said that changes in the market for counterfeit goods can also pose challenges to the private sector, which includes the challenge of distinguishing counterfeit goods from authentic goods sold online.

In addition, the counterfeit goods also complicate the enforcement efforts of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The GAO recommends that CBP evaluate its efforts to enhance IPR enforcement and assess potential additional information sharing with the private sector, both of which CBP has agreed with.

The issue of counterfeit products has been much discussed in the housewares industry. A 2017 HomeWorld Business report highlighted the growing issue and what steps housewares suppliers, retailers and others were taking to deal with the growing challenge of counterfeit products sold online.