The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) lists individual sites of the Internet retailer Amazon for the second time in its new Notorious Markets list, published in mid-January – this negative list names markets that the U.S. government believes do not sufficiently protect IP rights. Specifically, Amazon’s platforms for France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK are now listed – while, in contrast to last year, the Amazon sites for Canada and India are no longer named.
Allegedly, vendor information on the Amazon sites listed is misleading and it is difficult for customers to determine who is selling the products, rights owners complain. Also, they complain that sellers are poorly vetted and that the process to remove counterfeits is too burdensome. The report also stresses that the volume of counterfeit trade on Amazon continues to grow and that it is increasingly sophisticated. According to media reports, Amazon, on the other hand, criticizes the inclusion in the Notorious Markets list as the “continuation of a personal vendetta against Amazon” by the Trump administration, which was still in office at the time the list was published.
The USTR’s Notorious Markets List also lists, among others, the Chinese platforms DHgate and Pinduoduo as well as, for example, the well-known e-commerce platforms Mercado Libre, Shopee, Snapdeal, and Alibaba’s marketplace Taobao. In total, this year’s USTR blacklist includes 39 online marketplaces as well as 34 physical markets. Despite a respective request from the U.S. industry association AAFA, however, the USTR did not include any U.S. marketplaces or social media platforms; only a focus chapter mentions that counterfeiters also use social media sites, messenger services, and mobile apps for their illegal businesses.
Already in late December, the EU Commission had published its negative list, the so-called Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List. The European Union’s list also explicitly mentions positive developments – for example, the Thai platform Lazada and the Korean site Naver are mentioned for their efforts to improve IP protection. In addition, the EU Watch List stresses the significance of online commerce in times of the coronavirus pandemic.
The online marketplaces on the EU Watch List include, for example, DHGate, Mercado Libre, Shopee, and the Indian marketplace Snapdeal. As in the first edition of the EU Watch List, published in 2019, Amazon is not listed; this also applies to the often-discussed e-commerce platforms of Alibaba and eBay. The decisive factors for this are the platforms’ improved enforcement tools as well as their willingness to cooperate with brand owners, the Commission states.