US President Donald Trump has passed an executive order (EO) aimed at preventing the entry of fake goods into the country sold to US citizens online.

The EO is the US’ latest move to crack down on pirated and counterfeit goods sold over the internet via major e-commerce sites and follows a call from the Department of Homeland Security (DOHS) last week for the President to put measures in place to safeguard American consumers from being sold fake goods. 

A 54-page report issued by the DOHS to Trump suggests 90% of all intellectual property (IPR) seizures occur in the international mail and express shipment environments, a common method of shipping by e-commerce sites.

Under the EO, the US government says it will consider “all appropriate actions that it can take to ensure that persons that CBP suspends or debars are excluded from participating in the importation of merchandise into the United States.”

Commenting on the order, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer says: “The trafficking of counterfeit and pirated goods is a scourge that causes significant harm to our workers, consumers, intellectual property owners, and economy. Under President Trump’s leadership, the federal government and industry partners are working together to combat illicit trade. In addition, President Trump has ensured that intellectual property protection and enforcement against pirated and counterfeit goods are a priority in America’s trade relationships. For example, the USMCA sets the highest standards of any US trade agreement for strong, effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. Similarly, the US-China Phase One agreement includes strong intellectual property protections and effective action against pirated and counterfeit goods. 

“The Trump Administration is continuing to show strong leadership in stopping those who steal American intellectual property and seek to profit off of counterfeit products. I commend acting secretary Wolf and his staff at the Department of Homeland Security for their important report that highlights the extent of this problem and sets forth an action plan to address it.”

The US apparel and footwear industries have for some time been vocal about the damage caused to the industry from the entry of fakes via third-party marketplaces.

According to the US National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), clothing and footwear are among the top five most highly pirated goods. In October last year, US border police seized over US$22m in fake Nike shoes.

Last week’s report was welcomed by industry trade bodies, with Steve Lamar, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) saying: “This is about more than just lost sales and damaged brand reputation. Counterfeit products that are unknowingly purchased – whether a winter coat for yourself or pajamas for your newborn – can put Americans in direct contact with materials that do not meet federal safety regulations, support unsafe working conditions, or enable illegitimate factories to ignore sustainable best practices. It is past time that we attacked this pervasive problem head-on.”