April 3 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump signed a memorandum Wednesday to curtail the sale of counterfeit and pirated products online -- a move to make third-party vendors more accountable for those purchases, officials said.
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told reporters in a conference call the administration plans to collect more information about how widespread counterfeiting is online, who's behind it and refer them to the Homeland Security, Justice and Commerce departments. From there, he said, officials will make recommendations on potential regulatory or legislative changes.
"These third-party, online marketplaces -- Alibaba, Amazon, eBay, others -- together with the ecosystem that supports them ... they have essentially zero liability when it comes to the trafficking of these counterfeit goods," Navarro said. "That simply has to stop."
Navarro said the greatest challenge will be obtaining necessary data.
"We don't know with any certainty how much counterfeiting is going on," he said. "We believe it's a lot. We don't know how much there is, where it's coming from, how it's coming."
The memo said counterfeiting is a serious problem that "impairs economic competitiveness by harming United States intellectual property rights holders and diminishing the reputations and trustworthiness of online markets." It also says phony products cheat consumers and pose risks to health, safety -- and potentially national security if they get into the Department of Defense supply chain.
The administration cited a Government Accountability Office report that says up to 40 percent of items sold online are counterfeit.
"Our goal is to rightfully shift the burden of counterfeit trafficking to the supply chain and online third-party and intermediaries who are just blanketing this country with dangerous products that cheat consumers out of billions of dollars a year," Navarro said.