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  • Retailers Launch Lobbying Group to Fight Counterfeit Goods on Amazon
    Bloomberg

    Retailers Launch Lobbying Group to Fight Counterfeit Goods on Amazon

    (Bloomberg) -- More than a dozen trade groups are launching a new coalition aimed at forcing e-commerce companies such as Amazon.com Inc. to take stronger measures to fight stolen or counterfeit goods sold on their platforms.The industry associations, which represent Walmart Inc., Target Corp., and Best Buy Co. Inc. among other companies, announced on Friday they are founding The Buy Safe America Coalition to back legislation that would require digital marketplaces to verify information about third-party merchants.The lobbying push by retailers will only add to the scrutiny facing companies such as Amazon and EBay Inc. over their role in allowing counterfeit products from bicycles to jeans to be sold around the world. Lawmakers, President Donald Trump and companies have all been exploring ways to curb the deluge of fake goods online.The goal is “to continue to raise awareness about counterfeit and stolen goods,” among lawmakers in Washington and statehouses around the country, said Michael Hanson, senior executive vice president of public affairs for the Retail Leaders Industry Association, one of the coalition’s founding members. “Now, with the growth of people buying online because of this pandemic, it seems that this is getting worse.”In addition to RILA, the Toy Association, American Apparel & Footwear Association, the Fashion Jewelry and Accessories Trade Association and other industry groups are also joining the coalition.Together they are backing the so-called INFORM Consumers Act, which would require digital marketplaces to collect information about some third-party sellers such as their government ID, tax ID and bank account details. The legislation also would direct companies to disclose to shoppers their high-volume sellers’ names, phone numbers, business addresses and emails. The bill defines high-volume sellers as firms that make 200 or more sales in a year amounting to $5,000 or more. Senators Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican, and Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, introduced the bill in March. Democratic Representatives Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Kathy Castor of Florida introduced a companion version in July.“The retailers, many of them are fighting for their lives, and they want to have as even a playing field as possible,” Schakowsky told Bloomberg earlier this summer, referring to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on business. “I think equally, consumers are really hoping that they’re going to be able to get the same protections online” as they do at brick and mortar stores, she said.An Amazon spokesperson said in a statement the company has “developed many ways for sellers to share more about their business” with their customers.Amazon and Apple have acknowledged that counterfeit goods can be sold on their platforms, but say they invest in tools to identify fake listings and support law enforcement in their investigations of fraudulent sellers. Amazon announced in July that it would begin displaying sellers’ business names and addresses on their profile pages starting Sept. 1.Hanson and Rebecca Mond, vice president of federal government affairs at the Toy Association, said Amazon’s new policy doesn’t go far enough because the company isn’t committing to verifying the contact information it receives from the sellers.An Amazon spokesperson said the company already implements some of the practices outlined in the INFORM Consumers Act, including vetting potential third-party sellers.The proliferation of pirated and counterfeit goods on the internet has also caught the attention of the White House. The Department of Homeland Security in January recommended that the Trump administration seek permission to take legal action against third-party marketplaces that sell counterfeit merchandise, better track packages mailed from other countries and launch a consumer-awareness campaign, among other measures.The Department’s report also called on tech companies to more aggressively screen their vendors and create restrictions on products that are more likely to be counterfeited.“The costs that companies have to invest into protecting their brand and to policing these online marketplaces. I mean these are not insignificant costs,” said Mond. “The time to rely on voluntary measures or enforcement is done. We need to be looking at what needs to be implemented proactively to stop these products from getting up on the marketplace in the first place.”(Updates with new Amazon statement in 11th graph. A previous version of the story corrected the spelling of Schakowsky)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Warren Buffett Goes for Gold, Sells Major Bank Holdings
    GuruFocus.com

    Warren Buffett Goes for Gold, Sells Major Bank Holdings

    Investing legend reveals portfolio for the 2nd quarter Continue reading...

  • Bloomberg

    California Is Facing the Worst Power Grid Emergency in 14 Years

    (Bloomberg) -- California’s grid operator is warning of possible rolling blackouts and calling on the state’s utilities to start cutting power to some customers.Utilities were asked to curtail service to customers that had agreed to power disruptions when demand is high in return for incentive payments. The call came as the California Independent System Operator declared a Stage 2 emergency for the first time since 2006. It means the grid manager is no longer able to meet demand without market intervention. Shuttered power plants may be ordered back online.California is taking these measures in the hopes of avoiding rolling blackouts as temperatures soar above 100 degrees in some parts of the state and people blast their air conditioners to keep cool. The heat is hitting at an especially vulnerable time for the region with the pandemic forcing people to remain at home. Temperatures were forecast to reach 112 degrees Fahrenheit (44 Celsius) Friday in the San Joaquin Valley. Los Angeles could hit 96.If the emergency measures fail to address the surge in electricity demand, the California ISO will have to impose what it calls “load interruption” under a Stage 3 emergency to avoid power failures. As of 4 p.m. local time, the grid operator’s website showed a forecast peak in demand of roughly 47 gigawatts and 53 gigawatts in available capacity.The ISO had already asked residents to cut back on energy use with the heat expected to intensify heading into the weekend.Also See: Texas Power Demand Nears All-Time High Amid Searing HeatA “sweltering and long duration heat wave” is forecast to develop across the U.S. West this weekend through much of next week, according to the National Weather Service. The weather agency posted excessive heat warnings for much of California for Friday through Wednesday.Further complicating matters, cloud cover from the remnants of tropical storm Elida is expected to crimp output from the state’s solar generators, leading to tighter supplies, the grid operator said in a statement Friday.Electricity prices have already hit two-year highs as weather forecasters called for excessive heat. Natural gas prices in Southern California have more than doubled on the increased need for the fuel for power production, according to report from BloombergNEF.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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