Sept. 4, 2020—In July, theIntellectual Property Council of the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association met with members of Congress about bills to combat the online sales of counterfeit aftermarket auto parts.
Two bills are moving ahead to coincide with these goals. According to an AASA press release:
The SHOP SAFE Act (H.R. 6058), introduced by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrod Nadler (D-N.Y.), Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, and Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, would require online sellers to help prevent the sale of counterfeit products to consumers.
The INFORM Consumers Act (S. 3431), introduced by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), would help combat the online sale of stolen, counterfeit, and dangerous consumer products by providing for greater transparency of high-volume, third-party sellers on online retail marketplaces. Rep. Jan Schakowsky introduced the House companion version of this bill, H.R. 7756.
NOLN caught up with Catherine Boland, who is vice president of legislative affairs at the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA), which is the parent organization of the AASA. In an email Q and A, Boland explained some of the work going on in this area.
How prevalent are counterfeit aftermarket products in the online marketplace?
Boland: The presence and sale of counterfeit parts on e-commerce sites is growing as third-party online marketplaces become more prevalent. This poses a threat to consumers due to the inherent risks of counterfeit parts. As e-commerce has grown, counterfeiters have quickly adapted their business models to take advantage of these third-party online marketplaces.
According to a report published in January by the Department of Homeland Security, these marketplaces have led to the proliferation of counterfeit sales because they provide legitimacy to counterfeit listings, they have relatively low barriers to entry to selling online (lower startup, production, marketing, and distribution costs), and because of consumer attitudes and perceptions concerning third-party marketplace platforms.
In short, what steps would the SHOP SAFE and INFORM Consumers Acts take to mitigate the sale of counterfeit products?
These bills will increase the responsibility of online platforms to ensure the legitimacy of goods. INFORM Consumers requires the platforms to confirm the identity of third parties selling large amounts of goods in their marketplaces and SHOP SAFE applies contributory liability to online platforms that do not take several steps to verify the authenticity of goods sold on their third party marketplaces.
What steps can owners of automotive repair shops take to make sure they're purchasing authentic parts?
The most important thing a repair shop owner can do to ensure they are purchasing authentic parts is to only purchase parts from known sellers and rely on known distribution channels.