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WASHINGTON – The amount of counterfeit clothing being sold has surged during the coronavirus pandemic, the US American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) has warned. In comments submitted to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, it claims there is a lack of sufficient brand protection measures against fakes on ecommerce markets including Amazon, Facebook, and Instagram.

In its submission to the Review of Notorious Markets, the AAFA claimed the line between e-commerce and social media platforms has blurred in recent years, giving way to the explosion of social commerce. AAFA has now recommended the inclusion of Facebook, including its Instagram platform, as part of the Notorious Markets report citing input from the association’s membership and growing research showcasing the prevalence of counterfeits and fraudulent advertising on this platform. 

AAFA has also re-nominated Amazon, whose foreign domains were included in the 2019 Notorious Market report. Although AAFA members report increased progress and cooperation with Amazon over the past year, the number of counterfeits on the platform and the systems developed to address them remain mismatched, it says. AAFA plans to accelerate its engagement with Amazon at all levels in an effort to drive better results over the coming year.

“As ecommerce has grown, counterfeits themselves have become notorious for entering Americans’ homes via legitimate marketplaces,” said Steve Lamar, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association. “While in the past one would have to proactively enter physical markets with illicit goods, today the counterfeiters are sneaking into mainstream third-party online marketplaces, and even social media platforms, that we have come to trust. The problem is made worse due to insufficient response measures that do not match the growing size of the problem.

“This problem is exacerbated as the nation’s economy continues to struggle due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. While American businesses and American workers are working hard to survive, counterfeit product sales are stymying the recovery by stealing intellectual property, intercepting sales, and damaging brand reputation. Beyond the damage to American businesses, counterfeits are also putting American consumers at risk, by exposing them to products that may not follow product safety regulations and standards.”

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