The Toy Association has called on the government and e-commerce marketplaces to do more to stopper the upsurge in counterfeit and knock off toys finding their way into consumers’ homes.
It’s part of the message outlined by the US toy industry body in a new white paper that addresses the three main factors to have contributed to the rise in counterfeit and knock off toys sold online.
The release of the document follows the recent outrage that followed the sale of a cheap and knock off product via an online platform that resulted in a life threatening situation for a four year old child when they swallowed more than a dozen magnets.
According to the Association, the proliferation of copycat and unregulated toys via online marketplaces has raised significant safety and health hazards for consumers.
Its new white paper, called The Real Threat of Fake Toys: The Increase of Knockoff and Counterfeit Toys Sold Online and How to fight Back identifies three main factors contributing to the upsurge in counterfeits.
It includes insufficient vetting by marketplaces of sellers and products sold online, a burden of enforcement that is “disproportionately placed on the IP rights holders and consumers who are largely unaware of the scope of the problem and unknowingly purchase these products.
“Safety is the US toy industry’s number one priority and one child injured from a toy is one too many,” said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Toy Association. “Strong action must be taken to address these abuses. The toy industry is calling on all ecommerce marketplaces, the government and all other stakeholders to work together to effectively and swiftly fix this problem before another child is needlessly injured by a counterfeit toy.
“Consumers have come to rely on ecommerce platforms to provide discounted pricing and wide selections of name-brand quality toys also found at brick and mortar retail. However, under the current marketplace system, illicit sellers with little or no accountability take advantage of this consumer faith by offering inferior and unsafe counterfeit toys that put our children at risk.
“Anyone selling toys in the US must be held to the same high safety standards that apply to the toy brands consumers have come to know and trust.”
Solutions to the problem suggested by the Toy Association include a proposal that online marketplaces need to do more to proactively screen sellers and products. This would work by requiring marketplaces to collect verified contact information in a similar manner to social media channel verify authenticity.
Alternatively, online marketplaces should work with industry organisations and brand owners to create programmes that give the presumption of IP right holders a direct point of contact for the industry, better training and more transparency to stop offenders.
The third solution is to better educate consumers on the risks of buying online.
‘If online marketplaces refuse to monitor sellers and products, one option is to allow rights holders to create official product listings,’ read a statement. ‘This would help identify authentic product listings for consumers, who could then feel more confident when making a purchase that the product is real.’
Pasierb added: “The Toy Association’s white paper represents the concerns and voice of our members to raise awareness of the seriousness of counterfeit products available today while also providing actionable solutions.
“This paper - and future updates - will be a centrepiece in our advocacy campaign over the coming months to drive home the toy and play community’s concerns on Capitol Hill and to the Administration as we come together to demand change.”