On Dec. 29, 2022, President Biden signed an omnibus bill to fund the federal government for remainder of Fiscal Year 2023 ending Sept. 30. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, provides $1.7 trillion for agencies and programs, and the 4,000 page bill also includes unrelated legislative items that hitched a ride for final passage. One important item for IHA member companies is the Integrity, Notification, and Fairness Online Retail Marketplace for Consumers (INFORM Consumers) Act.
IHA joined the Buy Safe America Coalition led by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) in August 2021 to advocate for passage of the INFORM Act, because it will rein in counterfeit merchandise sold on e-platforms. The bill had bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, and one of the bill’s Senate sponsors was Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL).
In 2019, IHA President Derek Miller submitted comments on behalf of IHA to a U.S. Department of Commerce notice seeking input on how to curb the sale of counterfeit merchandise. The comments highlighted that legitimate businesses are too often victims of counterfeits that often directly compete with goods produced by IHA member companies.
The INFORM Consumers Act requires online marketplaces like Amazon to verify high-volume third-party sellers by acquiring a seller’s government ID, tax ID, bank account and contact information. High-volume third-party sellers are defined as vendors who have made 200 or more discrete sales in a 12-month period amounting to $5,000 or more.
IHA had another victory when the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) Online Act was not added to the omnibus bill. Sponsored by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the bill would have created new liability for retailers and sellers to post the country-of-origin of a product, which is often a complex task that is determined by trade laws and enforced by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The COOL Online Act would have required retailers and sellers to certify the accuracy of the country-of-origin information from a manufacturer and/or vendor and given determination and enforcement authority to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
In 2021, IHA joined the Country of Origin Labeling Online Coalition coordinated by the National Retail Federation (NRF) to oppose the COOL Online Act. The coalition communicated with House and Senate leaders to oppose adding the bill to major legislation like the omnibus, arguing against doing so based on its unworkable provisions and the bill never having been scrutinized in a hearing.