Toy Association Member Aaron Muderick Testifies at Senate Hearing on Counterfeits
November 2, 2021 | The Toy Association and its members continue to make headway in the fight against unsafe counterfeit toys sold on e-commerce marketplaces. Just this morning, Aaron Muderick, founder and president of Crazy Aaron’s Puttyworld and vice chairperson of The Toy Association's Board of Directors, testified at a Senate Committee on Judiciary hearing, “Cleaning Up Online Marketplaces: Protecting Against Stolen, Counterfeit, and Unsafe Goods.” A recording of the hearing can be viewed here.
Presided over by Committee Chair Dick Durbin and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, the hearing was attended by Toy Association staff who also submitted written comments on behalf of members, urging the Committee to support the INFORM Consumers Act and SHOP Safe Act as important legislative steps to combating the problem.
During his testimony, Muderick shared how the proliferation of counterfeit and unsafe goods in e-commerce are severely impacting his small business – and consumer health and safety.
Muderick stated that over the past several years there has been “a tidal wave of intellectual property infringing versions of product being sold online through third-party sellers,” such as his company’s magnetic putty. While he was finally able to beat back infringers of his trademarks and copyrights (spending significant time and resources in doing so), he became “increasingly concerned that almost every one of the competing products did not comply with mandatory federal safety standards.”
Muderick brought to the hearing several products purchased online that remain available for sale, despite the fact that his company has shared with marketplaces the results of independent, third-party lab tests showing their non-compliance with mandatory federal safety standards. While Crazy Aaron’s compliant product was developed through extensive investment in R&D and contains a magnet of low strength considered safe by federal standards, the non-compliant products contain loose, high-strength hazardous magnets which are not legal to sell in products for children under 14, among other violations.
“We greatly appreciate Aaron’s efforts at the Senate hearing,” said Ed Desmond, executive vice president of external affairs at The Toy Association. “His testimony provided concrete examples of the IP-related challenges faced by legitimate toy companies and shed light on how small business owners in particular are harmed by illicit products and sellers.”
The hearing kicked off with an introduction from Durbin that included video of Steve Pasierb, president & CEO of The Toy Association, appearing on GMA3 to discuss how consumers need to remain vigilant and scrutinize sellers when shopping online, especially amid the shipping crisis which has led to widespread toy shortages. The Toy Association continues to work year-round with government agencies and leading e-commerce platforms to tackle the problem, in addition to educating shoppers on how to avoid counterfeits.
“As it stands today, legitimate toy manufacturers and brick-and-mortar retailers are playing by one set of rules and anonymous third-party sellers that exploit marketplaces are playing by another set of rules or are not playing by the rules at all,” said Jennifer Gibbons, vice president of federal government affairs, in The Toy Association’s comments. “This harms both consumers and toy businesses large and small who are trying to bring safe, fun, and educational toys to market. More needs to be done to ensure that illicit third-party sellers are not able to take advantage of the current online marketplace environment and sell products that can pose serious health and safety risks.”
Members are encouraged to reach out to Jennifer Gibbons, vice president of federal government affairs at The Toy Association with any questions on this issue.