by KRISTEN MORENCY GOLDMAN, senior communications specialist, The Toy Association
Toys sold through e-commerce platforms continues to be a priority for The Toy Association and its more than 1,000 member companies. The Toy Association plans to ramp up advocacy and education efforts throughout the year, meeting with legislators, enforcement agencies, and online marketplaces in the months ahead to work to iradicate the issue, which is putting so many American families and kids in harm’s way and undercutting legitimate, law-abiding brands.
“The Toy Association has been working tirelessly to raise the alarm on the urgent issue of counterfeit toys — from testifying before Congress to participating in a roundtable talk with top White House officials — but our work won’t be done until fakes are eradicated,” says Rebecca Mond, vice president of federal government affairs at The Toy Association. “E-commerce platforms should not be exempt from the responsibility that all retailers have to ensure the toys and games they are selling are legitimate and abide by 100-plus stringent federal toy safety standards and tests designed to keep children safe at play.”
In early March, Toy Association staff testified at a hearing by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce in order to brief the subcommittee on industry concerns related to IP-infringing toys. Representatives from Amazon, eBay, Apple, Consumer Reports, Public Citizen, and Specialized Bicycles also testified at the hearing.
The Toy Association has voiced its strong support for the bipartisan Shop Safe Act introduced in March, which aims to eliminate the online sale of counterfeit goods by incentivizing e-commerce platforms to adopt best practices to eliminate sellers of potentially harmful counterfeit products. If introduced, the bill would implement many of The Toy Association’s recommendations in its intellectual property committee white paper, “The Real Threat of Fake Toys.”
Among the requirements, the bill mandates that marketplaces implement seller vetting, penalties for repeat offenders, and consumer transparency, therefore reducing opportunities for counterfeits to be sold online. E-commerce marketplaces would be liable for counterfeit products sold on their sites if they do not implement these protections. Prior to the bill’s introduction, The Toy Association joined 17 trade associations and organizations in submitting a letter to House Judiciary Committee offices. The Association plans to continue to advocate for support of the bill alongside other organizations.
Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security released a new report, “Combatting Trafficking in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods,” concluding current government enforcement efforts and private sector actions have thus far been insufficient to stem the flow of counterfeit products sold to U.S. consumers. The Toy Association issued a statement applauding the report, which echoes many of the Association’s recommendations submitted to the Department of Commerce last August. The Toy Association has received a request from the office of Peter Navarro, assistant to the president and director of trade and manufacturing policy, to provide a wish list, based on the report, of the toy industry’s top two to three priorities for the government to focus on going forward.
“As we continue to advocate for the complete elimination of these harmful, knock-off products and educate lawmakers and agencies on the growing prevalence of these items, which have the potential to do great harm, we are making significant strides and expect to see positive developments in the year ahead,” Mond says. “We look forward to further collaborating with all stakeholders, as well as our members, to ensure that illicit, unsafe toys and games become a thing of the past.”
For more information, contact Rebecca Mond, vice president of federal government affairs (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This article originally appeared in the April/May 2020 issue of the Toy Book.