While legislation has moved slowly at the federal level, Ohio has joined Colorado and Arkansas as the latest state to enact its own version of the Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketing for Consumers Act, or INFORM Consumers Act. State INFORM Consumers Acts seek to require online marketplaces to collect and verify identification and other information from “high volume” third-party sellers, and/or to provide that information to buyers, all in an effort to make it easier for brand owners to police online counterfeiting. Although the details vary from state to state, most require marketplaces to collect government identification, verify it, and then provide that information to buyers, either on the website or on receipts. In addition to Ohio, Colorado, and Arkansas, legislation is waiting to be signed into law in Georgia, and has or is being considered in twenty-seven more states, including California and New York.
As more and more states—or some larger states—pass these laws, online marketplaces are likely to bring their entire platforms into compliance with the most restrictive state law. While the legislation will not solve all of the counterfeiting and related problems on e-commerce platforms, it should make enforcement against larger sellers easier.