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Together Against Counterfeiting Alliance calls on the European Parliament and Member States to increase the level of ambition of the European Commission’s Digital Services Act proposal

15 December 2020 - The Together Against Counterfeiting (TAC) Alliance welcomes the Commission’s Digital Services Act proposal as a step forward, but notes it falls short of meaningfully protecting consumers from the growth of online sales of counterfeited goods. The TAC Alliance urges MEPs and national governments to introduce a horizontal obligation for all online intermediaries to implement proactive and stay-down measures, as part of the upcoming negotiations on the proposal.

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The Together Against Counterfeiting (TAC) Alliance welcomes the Commission’s Digital Services Act proposal as a step forward, but notes it falls short of meaningfully protecting consumers from the growth of online sales of counterfeited goods. The TAC Alliance urges MEPs and national governments to introduce a horizontal obligation for all online intermediaries to implement proactive and stay-down measures, as part of the upcoming negotiations on the proposal.

TAC supports the European Commission’s position that “what is illegal offline should be illegal online”. While we welcome the positive proposals of creating strengthened seller identification requirements and of harmonizing notice & takedown procedures, the provisions in the DSA fail to adequately prevent the appearance and re-appearance of illegal goods online, and this for the following reasons:

  • The proposed Good Samaritan Protection to encourage online intermediaries to take action will not change anything to the current situation. Intermediaries will continue to be legally entitled not to take any measures, allowing counterfeiters to continue benefitting from the sale of illegal goods online. Meanwhile, rightsholders will be left to perpetually chase the criminal instigators of such violations ex-post and consumers will continue to face serious harms.
  • The ingenuity with which bad actors push counterfeit products to the market remains vastly underestimated. Online intermediaries should be forced to dedicate their analytical resources in sending logistics and money streams, to curb re-appearing advertisements by (seemingly unconnected) sellers of counterfeit products.
  • Preventing the appearance of illegal goods online is about protecting consumers, not about restricting freedom of expression. The proposed framework should make sure consumers receive accurate and verified commercial information about products they buy and that online sellers only sell goods which are legal.

Tackling counterfeiting has never been more urgent. Counterfeiting makes up more than 7% of European imports by value and is fast increasing. It represents a loss of over €15 billion in tax revenue in Europe each year. Moreover, the threat of dangerous fakes continues to grow. According to the Commission, 97% of counterfeit goods pose a serious risk to consumers and 30% of consumers have unintentionally bought a fake product online over the past few years. Without effective rules at EU level and coordinated actions across Member States, this criminal activity will continue to rise and benefit counterfeiters, while putting legitimate businesses at risk and exposing consumers to health and safety harms.

Today’s publication of the DSA proposal creates a momentum for Europe to build a safer and more responsible digital ecosystem, while bringing legislation up to speed with the digital developments of the past two decades. TAC calls on the European Parliament and Member States to significantly increase the ambitions of the European Commission’s proposal. Anything less than that would fail to protect consumers and legitimate businesses from the health, safety, environmental and economic harms associated with the growing sale of counterfeited goods online.

More information on our position and recommendations can be found here.

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The Together Against Counterfeiting (TAC) Alliance brings together almost 100 companies from all industrial sectors, with the support of over 20 trade associations and NGOs. Our purpose is to raise awareness about the impact of the worrying growth of counterfeiting and push for the adoption of immediate, horizontal and ambitious legislative solutions at European level.

Learn more about us: www.tacalliance.eu

Press contact:

Thomas Barros-Tastets

Mob: + 32 484 66 01 90 ; thomas.barros-tastets@portland-communications.com

Maïssane Lahmar-Savage

Mob: +32 477 98 31 88 ; maissane.lahmar-savage@portland-communications.com