USTR’s Notorious Markets List 2021 offends top Indian traders’ group



The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has expressed ‘deep anguish’ at the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) including prominent Indian markets like Heera Panna in South Mumbai, Palika Bazar and Tank Road in New Delhi, and Kidderpore in Kolkata in its Notorious Markets List for 2021.

The CAIT rejected the USTR findings and claimed that it had hurt the ‘sentiments’ of traders in India. The markets were featured in the list for allegedly facilitating trade in counterfeits.

CAIT president BC Bhartia and national general secretary Praveen Khandelwal claimed that the USTR had overreached its jurisdiction and had no business maligning markets in other countries.

They said the allegations of engaging in or facilitating substantial trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy in these markets was part of a calculated strategy to discourage international shoppers from patronizing them.

CAIT said it would register its displeasure with the US embassy in New Delhi. Bhartia said CAIT’s legal team is examining the matter and will not shy away from filing a petition in court if it were warranted.

Both leaders said the world was aware of the malpractices indulged in by some American companies and claimed that several had been penalized in various countries, including India, in the past.

Heera Panna, a major indoor market in the heart of Mumbai, reportedly offers counterfeit watches, footwear, accessories and cosmetics. Rights holders warn that counterfeit cosmetics sold at this market have health and safety risks. A raid at Heera Panna in September 2021 resulted in arrests for selling counterfeit versions of premium watches.

Kidderpore, Kolkata, locally known as ‘Fancy Market’, allegedly sells counterfeit apparel and cosmetics, often in wholesale quantities. Severe skin problems, rashes, irritation and eye diseases have reportedly been caused by the poor quality of the counterfeits.

Palika Bazaar, an underground market in New Delhi, is known for trade in counterfeit products such as mobile accessories, cosmetics, watches and eyewear. Many shoppers are reportedly students and other young people who want trendy products at cheap prices. The market is also a popular tourist destination.

Tank Road in Delhi also sells counterfeit products, including apparel, footwear, watches, handbags, electronics and beauty products, rights holders reported. Wholesale counterfeit goods are reportedly supplied from this market to other Indian markets, including Gaffar Market and Ajmal Khan Road.

Rights holders noted that conducting enforcement actions at this location is challenging as the market is in a residential area and sellers often appear to know of raids in advance.

The USTR’s NML report also accused prominent Indian websites like IndiaMART and TamilRockers of indulging in commercial-scale copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting.

The report said counterfeit goods, including pharmaceuticals, electronics and apparel, can be found in large quantities on IndiaMART, an e-commerce website and mobile app that connects buyers with suppliers and describes itself as the world’s second-largest online business-to-business market.

The USTR said rights holders are concerned with IndiaMART’s failure to adequately implement anti-counterfeiting best practices such as seller verification, institute penalties against known sellers of counterfeit goods, and proactively monitor infringing goods.

IndiaMART has a notice-and-takedown system, but rights holders reported that it is cumbersome to use and the status of notices is not transparently communicated.

Indian authorities took the torrent site TamilRockers offline, along with many of its copycat sites like Tamilblasters and TamilMV.