On April 3, 2019, President Trump released a “memorandum on combating trafficking in counterfeit and pirated goods” which calls for a report on the state of the issue to be completed by November 1, 2019. Homeland security is in charge, with consultations from Commerce, Justice, OMB, USTR, and others, including intellectual property rights holders.
The memorandum mentions a couple of prior studies on counterfeiting and piracy, but the current data continues to be lacking — as the GAO wrote in 2010: “U.S. government estimates of economic losses resulting from counterfeiting cannot be substantiated due to the absence of underlying studies.”
A few elements of the memorandum are important to consider:
- The Administration is treating counterfeit goods and copyright piracy as homeland security and law enforcement issues — directing those groups to to step-up their efforts.
- The Administration is focusing as much on trafficking as it is production. Think about vendors such as Amazon, Physical carriers such as FedEx, digital pipeline operators; payment providers, and customs brokers. For legitimate intermediaries, however, the focus is on acting as “beneficial partners in combating trafficking.”
Although counterfeit goods may be costing the makers of branded products, the companies trafficking in the goods are making money. It will be interesting to see the extent that those companies operating on an international scale will be willing to cooperate with US law enforcement.