They threaten the health and safety of children and undermine our industry’s innovation, reputation, and commitment to safety. I’m speaking, of course, about the relentless tide of counterfeit toys overwhelmingly flowing from rogue factories and sellers in China, but not limited to that nation.
Infringing products are a significant and growing concern everywhere in the international toy community. Recently, our colleagues at the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA), released a study documenting that 58 per cent of toys selected for assessment from online marketplaces are non-compliant with UK toy safety regulations and illegal for sale in that country.
Arguably, similar results or worse could be replicated in any developed nation.
At the US Toy Association, our work on the issue began several years ago, via member outcry, roundtable meetings, hearings, and advocacy with top government officials and enforcement agencies, as well as the formation of our Intellectual Property (IP) Protection Committee. Our relentless voice has resonated with the US federal government, witnessed by an invitation to be among a select few to testify before Congress about the dangers of counterfeits, and a meeting with top White House officials to discuss possible regulatory and legislative actions to combat the sale of illicit toys and goods online.
An essential element has been working with e-commerce platforms to illustrate toy manufacturer concerns and seek solutions that would reduce the number of counterfeits, including increased and improved vetting of sellers prior to joining marketplaces; consistent data requirements across platforms and information sharing among platforms, brand owners, and enforcement agencies; and exploring whether marketplaces should have greater liability to ensure the authenticity and safety of the products they sell just as brick-and-mortar retailers must.
Our white paper, “The Real Threat of Fake Toys,” takes a deep dive into the three primary factors that contribute to the proliferation of counterfeit toys through e-commerce channels, and outlines potential solutions to combat these factors through collaborative work among stakeholders.
We cannot relent in combatting illicit sellers and vastly more must be done to ensure the safety of toys sold worldwide through online marketplaces – from established major e-commerce sites to those just emerging.
Violative toys are a risk to children everywhere – and to the entire business of toys – and all rogue sellers of untested, unsafe toys must be held accountable. I encourage the toy community to reach out to our staff with personal examples, feedback, and information on this critical issue as we strive to eliminate dangerous counterfeit toys and children’s goods.