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A Weapon Aimed at Notorious Markets

By Ambassador Robert Holleyman

We live in a digital world that has limitless potential.  The U.S. economy and American families have been served well by the digital marketplace, not only has it provided a way for sellers to find buyers around the globe, it has created jobs and opportunities for millions of Americans.   But with that reward comes risk.

Combating that risk is why we developed the Notorious Markets report five years ago.

The 2014 Notorious Markets List highlights physical and online markets around the world that are reported to engage in and facilitate commercial scale copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting. This conduct harms American businesses, undermines our workers, and as in the case of illicit online pharmacies, can even endanger us. 

Around the world, illicit markets are jeopardizing the health and safety of the public while making it more difficult for innovators, entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, scientists, and countless others to benefit from their hard work and creative genius.

American creative and innovative industries are critical economically – they fuel our economy and employ millions of Americans.  The U.S. Commerce Department confirms that these and the associated industries are responsible for 40 million American jobs. 

The Obama Administration takes our job of defending those jobs very seriously.

But the trade in counterfeit goods is not only an American problem that harms Americans; it is a global threat -- which is why this list should matter to everyone.  It’s not just U.S. content that’s being stolen.  The sites highlighted on the list don’t discriminate on the basis of nationality when they are looking for content to profit from. 

The creative and innovative industries generate millions of jobs worldwide – regardless of where they are headquartered.  And our trading partners should review the list and should act because they have a lot at stake too.  Consumers everywhere can fall victim to sale of counterfeit pharmaceuticals online, and counterfeit personal care, food, and beverage products in markets around the world. 

The threat is real but also are the results we have achieved through this report.  Still in its infancy, the Notorious Markets report has become a powerful weapon to combat these markets. Online sites and physical market places that want to be taken seriously reform and those that don’t are being shuttered. 

In this year’s report, we highlight and applaud the voluntary efforts of legitimate market owners to address illicit goods in their marketplaces, and call on others to follow their example.   We also highlight successful enforcement actions that have had an impact on counterfeiting and piracy.

Reducing the shadow generated by global trafficking in counterfeit and pirated goods requires a global response – we need to work together – governments, consumers and business owners - to address the challenges presented by online and physical Notorious Markets.