A GAO report has found that CBP and ICE could do more to address the risks posed by the changing counterfeit goods market.
Growth in e-commerce has sparked a shift in the counterfeit goods market, with a wider variety of products listed on websites alongside genuine items. GAO purchased 47 items from third-party sellers, including cosmetics, travel mugs and phone chargers, on popular consumer websites, and found, in a February report, that 20 of them were counterfeit when tested.
On March 6, Kimberly Gianopoulos, Director of International Affairs and Trade testified to the Senate Finance Committee in light of the GAO report. She said that: “CBP and ICE have collected some performance data onactivities we reviewed, and ICE has taken some steps to better understand the impact of its efforts, such as creating a process to track cases it deems significant. However, we found that CBP has conducted limited evaluation of its efforts to enhance IPR enforcement.”
GAO found that both CBP and ICE engage in intellectual property rights enforcement, including conducting special operations at U.S. ports and engaging with international partners, but while ICE has assessed the impact of its efforts, CBP has taken limited steps to do so and may lack the information needed to ensure it is investing resources wisely.
GAO also found that CBP’s restrictions on information sharing limit enforcement efforts. CBP and ICE do collaborate on IPR efforts, but sharing additional information about seized items with rights-holding companies and e-commerce websites could improve enforcement, according to private sector representatives.
The study recommends that CBP should evaluate the effectiveness of its IPR enforcement efforts through improving metrics and evaluating selected activities. It also recommends that CBP, in consultation with ICE, should assess the information it needs to share with the private sector and take action, if necessary to propose regulatory revisions or request additional legal authorities from Congress.