The protection of intellectual property rights “is central to our business,” the statement said. “We take a comprehensive approach, based on industry best practices, to combating counterfeiting and infringement on all of our platforms.”
The office said some countries had made progress in cracking down on the sale of counterfeit goods, including Brazil, the Philippines, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates. It also said it had documented a shift of pirated goods from physical marketplaces to online, in part because the pandemic depressed global tourism.
The report also identified a new ecosystem: “piracy-as-a-service,” in which operators offer website templates, databases of infringed video content or other features that make it easy for customers to set up pirate operations.
“The global trade in counterfeit and pirated goods undermines critical US innovation and creativity and harms American workers,” Katherine Tai, the United States trade representative, said in a statement. “This illicit trade also increases the vulnerability of workers involved in the manufacturing of counterfeit goods to exploitative labor practices, and the counterfeit goods can pose significant risks to the health and safety of consumers and workers around the world.”
The report also examined the impact of counterfeit goods on the people who make them, part of the administration’s focus on how trade affects workers. Because these businesses operate outside the law, counterfeiting and piracy often go hand in hand with unsafe working conditions, child labor, forced labor and other issues, the trade representative’s office said.
“Counterfeit manufacturing often occurs in clandestine work places outside the reach of labor market regulations and inspection systems, which increases the vulnerability of workers to exploitative labor practices,” the report said.
The report will result in no immediate penalties for the named companies, though it said the goal of publishing such a list was to “motivate appropriate action by the private sector and governments.”