Counterfeit Products

US Patent Office Seeks Public Comment on Anti-Piracy

In a recently published Federal Register notice, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is asking the public for ideas about addressing an immeasurable challenge—that of thwarting counterfeiting and piracy in the U.S.

Public Comments and Discussion on Anti-piracy and Anti-counterfeiting Solutions

Comments about anti-counterfeiting and anti-piracy measures can be made until August 23, 2023. The USPTO will then host a public roundtable discussion on October 3 in Alexandria, Virginia. Anyone who is interested in attending this discussion about piracy and counterfeiting solutions must register in advance.

The Challenge: Pirate and Counterfeit Products

The USPTO warns that counterfeited and pirated merchandise is widely available to U.S. consumers and that these products pose serious public health, safety and national security risks. These items can be easily purchased through traditional physical markets as well as social media and e-commerce websites. The agency is requesting information about strategies for fighting piracy and counterfeits that have been shown to be effective, in addition to future ideas and strategies. The notice outlines a list of 14 areas that the USPTO would like information about.

$3.3 Billion Lost to Counterfeit Goods

In 2021, the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conducted more than 27,000 counterfeit and pirate product seizures that came in through U.S. ports. These illicit products had an estimated retail value of more than $3.3 billion. This represents a small portion of the counterfeit goods that come into the U.S. annually.

Creators, Manufacturers, Consumers and Marketplaces at Risk

Intellectual property owners, manufacturers, licensees, marketplaces, retailers and consumers all understand that piracy is a danger to everyone and that counterfeit products have an enormous economic impact. The sale and purchase of pirated goods hurts U.S. industry innovation and competitive practices. The United States Chamber of Commerce reports that counterfeiting and piracy costs 230,000 to 560,000 American jobs every year and $47.5 to 115.3 billion in gross domestic product.

COVID Pandemic Increases Piracy

The explosion in counterfeit products rose dramatically during the pandemic, especially in healthcare. In 2021, the CBP seized approximately 35 million counterfeit face masks.

USPTO Combats Counterfeiting and Piracy but Still Room for Improvement

The agency addresses the issues of piracy and counterfeiting through its Intellectual Property Attaché as well as public awareness campaigns, and by assisting trade partners. Part of the challenge is that individuals engaging in pirated and counterfeit goods use different methods to expand their illegal market and evade detection. Because of this, there is a need to make anti-piracy and anti-counterfeiting strategies more effective.

This planned discussion and ongoing collaboration as to education, best practices and worldwide strategies are beneficial for all those who are affected by piracy.

The National Law Review – June 2, 2023

Future Strategies in Anticounterfeiting and Antipiracy – USPTO – May 25, 2023

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