President’s Letter: The Real Threat of Fake Toys
August 27, 2019 | As an industry that is committed to regulatory compliance and ensuring children only have access to safe toys and games, we remain extremely troubled by the relentless tide of unsafe, knockoff toys overwhelmingly flowing for sale in the U.S. from rogue sellers in China (but not limited to that nation). Many of these infringing products are shipped directly to consumers and bypass our strict federal safety laws, posing a significant health and safety risk to America’s most vulnerable consumers – kids.
The Toy Association has been raising awareness and demanding action. We are glad to see a resulting rise in media reports and government officials echoing our industry’s concerns. The Toy Association’s own fight against counterfeits 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 voice on behalf of the entire toy community has resonated with the federal government, witnessed by recent invitations to be among a select few to testify before Congress about the dangers of counterfeits, and to participate in a roundtable discussion with top White House officials on possible regulatory and legislative actions to combat the online sale of illicit toys and other children’s products.
All e-commerce platforms have an urgent role to play and responsibility to act. We have been working with several leading platforms to illustrate toy industry concerns and specific instances of dangerous product sales while offering solutions that would reduce the number of counterfeits. We widely-distributed our IP Committee’s white paper, “The Real Threat of Fake Toys,” that explores factors contributing to the rise in counterfeit goods sold and outlines potential solutions to combat these factors through collaborative work among stakeholders. I encourage everyone in the toy community to read and comment for future updates to this living document.
Alerting consumers is another vital step. We are expanding our efforts to educate families on safe shopping practices. We advise shoppers to be aware of exactly where, and from which seller, they are purchasing toys from. This means taking a few extra minutes to dig deeper into a lesser known online seller’s history, by searching for the company’s website and mission statement, and carefully reading reviews. Grammatical errors in a product description are one red flag. Consumers can also check on a brand’s website for links to official retailers. And while we all want to find a good deal on a toy, it’s best to be cautious. If a deal seems too good to be true, the product may be a counterfeit or imitation.
Genuine toys sold through legitimate retail channels are playing by an established set of rules to safeguard children, while overseas sellers that exploit online marketplaces and skirt regulation are not playing by any rules at all beyond subterfuge and profit-seeking, thereby placing children, families, and consumers everywhere are at risk. The Toy Association, our 1,100+ member companies, and the broad U.S. toy community will not stop advocating until the e-commerce marketplace system is fixed, so that no child is ever again harmed by a phony product that fails to meet our country’s strict safety standards.
Please reach out to our staff with your examples of violative products being sold online, your feedback on marketplace practices that must change, and related information as we continue to push back and demand the elimination of sales of dangerous counterfeit toys and children’s products.
President & CEO
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