ICPHSO Recap – Counterfeit Products: A Growing Risk to Global Product Safety
ICPHSO, The International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization, held its 2022 Annual Meeting & Training Symposium in person on 14-17 February 2022, in National Harbor, MD, outside Washington, DC.
On Tuesday, 15 February 2022, Stacey Bowers, C&R’s Global Market Access Manager, co-presented a practical panel on counterfeit products. The interactive, multi-stakeholder panel included Lindsay Lorimer, a Partner in the Litigation and Dispute Resolution Group at McMillan LLP in Toronto, Canada, Nate Herman, Senior Vice President, Policy, American Apparel & Footwear Association and, in absentia, Martyn Allen CEng MIET, Technical Director, Electrical Safety First, London, UK.
While many manufacturers may think of counterfeiting as purely an intellectual property (IP)/ brand reputation issue, panelists informed attendees that it has become a mainstay product safety issue, particularly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which consumers were forced to stay home and, simultaneously, relied even more heavily on ecommerce than before. To that end, in FY 2020, US Customs seized a large number of counterfeit, unapproved or otherwise substandard COVID-related products, such as 13 million counterfeit face masks, 177 thousand test kits and 38 thousand chloroquine tablets.
Panelists provided insight into global initiatives to combat counterfeit products, including highlights of regulatory approaches, such as the Russian Chestny Znak (“Honest Sign“), which requires a QR Code to be added to the label of a wide range of products, such as apparel, footwear, cosmetics, tires and cameras, and the proposed US federal SHOP SAFE Act and INFORM Consumers Act, both of which were recently passed by the US House of Representatives as part of the America COMPETES Act.
The AAFA has proactively approached online platforms offering counterfeit products, including preparing a report entitled, “Dupe Influencers: The Concerning Trend of Promoting Counterfeit Apparel, Footwear, and Accessories on Social Media,” in 2021. AAFA seeks to raise awareness of the safety concerns from counterfeit products among the public and policymakers both. The association also provides guidance to its members when seeking to “take down” counterfeit versions of their products.
Electrical Safety First, a UK-based charity, estimates 4 million UK shoppers bought fake electrical products in the past year, a quarter of which were from online marketplaces. To help consumers, ESF created a browser extension called “Check It Out,” an app which reminds consumers when they’re buying from unregulated third-party sellers.
Panelists wrapped up by offering attendees “The Four Ps,” namely:
- Product – Know what you are buying
- Person – Be confident who you are buying from
- Place – Know the origins of the product
- Price – If it looks too good to be true, it probably is!!
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