DTI wants online shopping platforms liable for selling counterfeit items

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Online shopping platforms like Lazada and Shopee may face penalties for selling fake or knockoff items of established brands.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 8) — The Department of Trade and Industry is taking its crackdown on brand dupes online and is eyeing to penalize e-commerce platforms who sell counterfeit items.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said they are drafting a proposed law that would slap fines on malls and even online shopping portals that allow the sale of brand imitations. He said this would assure consumers and even manufacturers that trademarks and patents will be protected in the Philippines.

"Meron kaming ipo-propose na legislation kung saan 'yung mismong nagbebenta will also be liable, the platform. Parang siya 'yung store," Lopez told CNN Philippines' The Source.

"In the same way, online 'yan or kahit sa brick and mortar, pati 'yung store na let's say 'yung malls, later on maging liable din sila kapag nag-allow silang magbenta ng mga counterfeit sa lugar nila."

[Translation: We will propose a legislation where the selling platform will also be liable. It will be considered the store. In the same way, whether it's online or brick and mortar, it will be liable if it allows the sale of counterfeit items in its area.]

Online marketplaces Lazada and Shopee and fashion retailer Zalora are the biggest web-based stores among Filipinos, where manufacturers and even individual sellers list their available products.

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines is crafting the proposal, the DTI chief added.

Lopez said he is keen on boosting e-commerce in the country, which remains below 10 percent of all transactions despite millions of active Internet users, and even fewer digital payments.

READ: PH internet economy still the smallest in Southeast Asia

The Cabinet official said that online shopping is covered by local consumer laws, and that any complaints can be forwarded to the DTI.

The agency has received around 500 complaints on defective items purchased online. Lopez clarified that like in physical stores, broken items should be eligible for replacement and repair if bought online.

Online shoppers should considering buying from "trusted" platforms to avoid problems, the DTI secretary said.