Roles and Responsibilities of Intermediaries: Fighting counterfeiting and piracy in the supply chain (2015)

No. Free020

ISBN : Free0020

Produced by ICC’s Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) initiative, the paper sets out cross-cutting measures and best practices that will help intermediaries—ranging from express shipping companies to online search engines and market places—ensure that their systems are capable of eliminating the infiltration of counterfeit goods and pirated content.

Roles and responsibilities of Intermediaries

Intermediaries are the backbone of commerce and include suppliers of raw materials and components, transport, shipping and distribution companies, landlords and shop owners, online marketplaces, internet service providers, search engines and advertising networks, websites, credit card companies and even the popular social media sites.

Intermediaries, as the underlying infrastructure of all commerce have the inherent responsibility to restrict the abuse of their infrastructures for illicit trade. The greater the number of intermediaries and the more elaborate the supply chain, the more vulnerable the system is to infiltration and exploitation by counterfeiters. Experience shows that most intermediaries, when better informed about potential exploitation and the damage done by counterfeiting and piracy, demonstrate a willingness to secure their portion of the supply chain from abuse.

Purpose of the study

The BASCAP study examines several types of intermediaries, which are critical in the supply chain and are vulnerable to counterfeiting and piracy. Where current efforts have been inadequate in protecting against counterfeiting and piracy, the BASCAP study suggests measures to help responsible intermediaries more effectively deal with vulnerabilities in their operations.

The study aims to:

  • Raises awareness of intermediaries’ vulnerabilities to criminal networks and other infringers who exploit them to facilitate the global trade in counterfeit merchandise
  • Identifies current approaches to the problem through voluntary efforts on the part of intermediaries, enlisting them to engage both independently and with rights holders and authorities to discourage counterfeiting and piracy
  • Identifies alternative approaches to the problem that intermediaries might consider in developing solutions
  • Assesses whether these programs are working to deter the infiltration of counterfeit and pirated goods within these intermediary networks
  • Presents BASCAP recommendations both specific to each intermediary and as a set of concluding general best practices. The result will encourage intermediaries to collaborate with rights holders and governments and more effectively address global counterfeiting and piracy problems
Code ISBN : Free0020
Number of pages : 108
Publishing date : 2015-03-02
Language : English



Trends toward IP infringement in the supply chain



Intermediaries in the physical world

Intermediaries in the online world.

Key principles found in intermediary-related laws

Guiding principles

Responsibility and accountability

Complicit behavior

Conditions for “safe harbor” immunity

Legal precedents and regulation

Part I: Physical Intermediaries

1. Raw materials and component suppliers

1.1 Vulnerabilities to counterfeits from raw material, component, and ingredient suppliers

Vulnerabilities in commercial aviation

Vulnerabilities in electronics

Vulnerabilities in pharmaceuticals.

Vulnerabilities in tobacco products

1.2 Current approaches to the problem

Commercial aviation: distributor accreditation program

Electronics: standards for parts and vendor management, procurement, testing, and response strategies

Pharmaceuticals: verified mark program

Tobacco: the Digital Coding & Tracking Association

Cross-sector standards: ANSI

1.3 Additional approaches to consider

KYS and beyond — Know Your Customer

KYC in transport of pesticides

1.4 Are these practices working

1.5 Suggested best practices

2. Transport operators

2.1 Vulnerabilities to counterfeits for transport operators

Vulnerabilities in container shipping — sea and land

Vulnerabilities in air cargo and mail couriers

2.2 Current approaches to the problem

Voluntary monitoring and reporting, partnerships, blacklists, education and data-sharing

KYC programs in shipping/transport

KYC and due diligence services

Multilateral public-private partnerships

2.3 Additional approaches to consider

Partnerships to enhance targeting of counterfeit shipments

Authorized Economic Operator Program (AEO)

COAC IPR subcommittee

Transport intermediary action in other areas — sustainabilit

2.4 Are these practices working?

2.5 Suggested best practices

3. Landlords

3.1 Vulnerabilities to counterfeits for landlords

3.2 Current approaches to the problem

Landlord deterrence

MoUs and collaboration eforts

Voluntary charter progra

3.3 Additional approaches to consider

Anti-drug programs

3.4 Are these practices working?

3.5 Suggested best practices

Part II: Online Intermediaries

4. Sites, platforms, portals and services

4.1 Online marketplaces

4.1.1 Infringement in E-commerce

Direct counterfeit sales

Mobile apps

4.1.2 Current approaches

European Commission’s Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)

MoUs between industry associations and Taobao

Internal corporate policies to deter infringement

4.1.3 Additional approaches to consider

nline seals, trust marks, and certifications

4.1.4 Are these programs working?

4.1.5 Suggested best practices

4.2 Content-sharing services

4.2.1 Infringement and piracy

User-generated content sites

Social networks

Cloud storage


4.2.2 Current approaches to the problem

Notice and takedown 

Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) filtering

Direct licensing

Automated notice and takedown

Terminating repeat infringers

4.2.3 Additional approaches to consider

Education and raising awareness

Predictive tools for risk analysis

4.2.4 Are these practices working?

4.2.5 Suggested best practices

5. Infrastructure providers

5.1 Internet hosting services

5.1.1 Infringement on Internet hosting services

5.1.2 Current approaches to the problem

Notice and takedown

5.1.3 Suggested best practices.

5.2 Domain name services

5.2.1 Current approaches to the problem.

Domain seizure

Information sharing

5.2.2 Are these practices working?

5.2.3 Suggested best practices

Roles and Responsibilities of Intermediaries

5.3 Internet service (access) providers

5.3.1 Vulnerabilities of Internet access and transmission services to misuse and abuse by IP infringers 

5.3.2 Current approaches to the problem

Terms of service/acceptable use policies

Education, notice and graduated response for repeat infringers

The US Copyright Alert System 

The Graduated Response Programs in France, the UK and Ireland

Public education and awareness

Colleges and universities

Site blocking

5.3.3 Are these practices working?

5.3.4 Suggested best practices

6. Search, online advertisers and payment processors

6.1 Internet search engines and portals

6.1.1 Infringement on Internet search engines and portals

6.1.2 Current approaches to the problem 

Notice and takedown

Search engine rank demotion

Key-word blocking in autocomplete

Advertising policies

6.1.3 Are these practices working?

6.1.4 Additional approaches to consider

Prioritize legitimate sources in search

De-index overwhelmingly infringing sites

De-rank sites that persistently make available unlicensed content

Auto-complete functions and predictive search query suggestions

6.1.5 Suggested best practices

6.2 Online advertising

6.2.1 Vulnerabilities to counterfeiting and piracy for online advertising

6.2.2 Current approaches to the problem

Statement of best practices — advertising sector

Tools available to advertisers

62.3 Are these practices working?

6.2.4 Suggested best practices 

6.3 Payment processors

6.3.1 Vulnerabilities to counterfeiting and piracy for payment processors

6.3.2 Current approaches to the problem

Voluntary cooperation with payment processors

Rights holder, law enforcement, and payment processor coordination

The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP)

6.3.3 Other approaches to consider.

6.3.4 Are these practices working? 

6.3.5 Suggested best practices



International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Publication