It’s no secret that many American small companies are nonetheless reeling from the consequences of the pandemic. As a small enterprise proprietor, I understand how laborious it’s to get again in your toes after a tough yr. Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the one important problem companies like mine are dealing with. The sale of counterfeit merchandise on on-line marketplaces continues to wreak havoc, and I’ve watched as counterfeiters have stolen my mental property and enterprise’s potential earnings.
After proudly serving within the U.S. army, then graduating from S.D.S.U. with a bachelor’s diploma, I began my transferring strap manufacturing enterprise in 1998. Based mostly in California, Forearm Forklift Lifting Straps intention to make transferring heavy furnishings, massive home equipment, and mattresses a less complicated activity with the leverage-lifting-strap-system I invented. For years, I invested every thing I had, finally securing a patent that might supposedly shield my design and the market I created.
Working your personal enterprise is all the time a problem, however sadly for the previous 11 years, I’ve struggled to guard my patent from counterfeiters promoting pretend variations of Forearm Forklift on on-line marketplaces. Since then, we’ve seen our small household enterprise getting ready to collapse as Amazon has finished little to forestall fakes of our product from being bought on its market. By 2015, our enterprise was so badly damage by this infringement and the e-commerce giants that facilitate the sale of fakes by way of lax oversight that we noticed lower than $5,000 in annual revenue and needed to lay off lots of our staff. What was as soon as our thriving, flagship product turned a stolen design on Amazon. Third-party retailers, hidden behind nameless firm names and sometimes working in China, started utilizing our title, pictures, brand, and labels on what was initially our product, with a marked down value.
Our modern patent didn’t appear to matter anymore. Despite the fact that we’ve reported 1000’s of counterfeit examples to Amazon alone, they took away our proper to report as a result of they refuse to pursue these criminals. And it ought to be famous that earlier than Amazon denied our proper to report, the harm charges rewarded to us totaled lower than $67,000, which is hardly sufficient to re-hire these staff we had been pressured to let go.
Whereas first-time prospects purchase low cost fakes of our product, they’re almost certainly unaware of how that impacts my enterprise. If any points come up from the pretend product, they then imagine that my firm makes dangerous high quality, harmful instruments and our popularity is tarnished. E-commerce platforms have a accountability to guard patents and copyrights. Plus, internet buyers need to get what they imagine they’re shopping for, that are secure and genuine merchandise that aren’t low cost knockoffs.
Legislative motion is required to guard my enterprise and others from criminals cashing in on counterfeits. The INFORM Shoppers Act, which has been launched within the U.S. Senate, is the type of safety wanted to fight this kind of crime. The bipartisan laws requires e-commerce web sites to confirm info from third-party sellers, corresponding to a government-issued ID and crucial contact info. This manner, when somebody makes an attempt to steal mental property from a authentic enterprise, there are some accountability measures and safeguards in place.
Small companies desperately want the INFORM Shoppers Act, particularly with on-line marketplaces taking part in a larger function in our procuring habits. E-commerce platforms haven’t taken the steps to guard us, so lawmakers ought to make sure that different small companies don’t expertise the identical destiny as mine. God bless America!
Mark Lopreiato is the proprietor of Forearm Forklift, a instruments firm primarily based in Baldwin Park, California.