Background

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has released its 2021 report on notorious markets, which identifies 42 online markets and 35 physical markets around the world that reportedly engage in and facilitate substantial copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting. USTR notes that this list does not constitute an exhaustive list of all markets reported to deal in or facilitate commercial-scale copyright piracy or trademark counterfeiting, nor does it reflect findings of legal violations or the U.S. government’s analysis of the general IPR protection and enforcement climate in the countries concerned.

Reflecting the Biden administration’s focus on a worker-centered trade policy, this year’s report includes a section examining the adverse impact of counterfeiting on workers involved with the manufacture of counterfeit goods. “Existing data shows a correlation between the use of forced labor and child labor in the global production of certain products and the types of products that are most commonly counterfeited,” the report states. “These abuses are not isolated to certain products or areas, but occur in counterfeit manufacturing facilities across countries, regions, and industrial sectors.” In addition, “the informal economy in which counterfeiting thrives makes the occurrence of labor abuses, including forced labor and child labor, in counterfeit production sites difficult to detect and report.”

As a result, “there is an opportunity for the companies and enforcement authorities that work to shut down counterfeiting operations for intellectual property violations to collaborate and coordinate with those focused on forced labor and other workers’ rights violations to uncover and remedy these critical issues,” the report states. “If labor inspectors, labor-focused organizations, workers’ rights associations, and others target counterfeit manufacturing facilities for enforcement, this will not only protect workers and consumers, but will also reduce global trade in counterfeit goods. Increased coordination between those that engage in labor monitoring and those that engage in intellectual property enforcement holds the potential to advance research on the subject and to remedy labor abuses that currently go unaddressed.”

Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg offers a comprehensive suite of services to help companies address forced labor concerns, including supply chain reviews, due diligence strategies, and proactive remediation. ST&R also maintains a frequently updated web page offering a broad range of information on forced labor-related efforts in the U.S. and around the world and offers an on-demand webinar on forced labor and supply chain transparency.

For more information on IPR-related trade issues, please contact Lee Sandler at (305) 894-1000.

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