A-CAPP Director Kari Kammel Testifies before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary Sub-Committee on Intellectual Property

October 4, 2023

Kari Kammel, Director of Michigan State University’s Center for Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection (A-CAPP), testified at the Back to School with the SHOP SAFE Act: Protecting Our Families from Unsafe Online Counterfeits Hearing before the Intellectual Property Sub-Committee of the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary on October 3, 2023. In her testimony, Kammel focused on the need for further regulation and protection from the sale of counterfeits by third-party sellers on e-commerce platforms.

“Counterfeit products can be harmful to the consumer and the brand owner alike, because we have no idea what’s in them,” Kammel said. A recent A-CAPP global consumer survey has shown that two-thirds (66%) of American consumers unknowingly bought a counterfeit product, finding out it was not the authentic product they’d intended to buy only after receiving it. More than one in 10 American consumers (13.4%) who bought counterfeits online cited a negative health consequence from using those products. This legislation, Kammel said, will balance obligations and responsibilities between platforms and brand owners and lead to more proactive efforts on behalf of platforms to prevent counterfeit sales when consumers are shopping online, thus protecting the health, safety, and well-being of the American consumer.

The SHOP SAFE Act, reintroduced to the Senate on September 26, 2023, requires e-commerce platforms to implement proactive measures to deter and prevent counterfeit sales in their online spaces. It will also provide a safe harbor for those platforms from liability when they vet sellers and products to verify their legitimacy, prevent repeat offenders from selling additional items in their marketplaces, or take down counterfeit listings. Finally, it will create contributory trademark liability infringement for online platforms when they are not implementing best practices and a third-party seller sells a counterfeit good via the platform that endangers consumers’ health and safety.

Also testifying before the SHOP SAFE Act Hearing were Steve Lamar, President of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), Daniel Shapiro, Senior Vice President of Brand Relationship and Strategic Partnerships at Red Points, and Matthew Schruers, President of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA).

Kammel leads MSU’s unique A-CAPP Center focused on the topic of brand protection and anti-trademark counterfeiting. The Center integrates interdisciplinary research, education, and outreach within the context of the complex global issue of trademark counterfeiting and brand protection of products across multiple industries and markets. The Center’s team works closely with a multi-stakeholder industry advisory board, made up of representatives from multinational brands across industries and a Homeland Security Liaison, the Director of the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Coordination Center.