April 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
On April 26th, we held our Harper’s Bazaar Seventh Annual Anticounterfeiting Summit at the Hearst Tower in New York City. The theme for the industry luncheon was “Counterfeiting 2.0: The Internet and Its Effect on the Global Counterfeiting Epidemic.” The event kicked off with keynote speaker Frank Abagnale. Subject of the acclaimed book, movie and now Broadway play, Catch Me If You Can, Abagnale has spent the subsequent years following his cons (he posed as a pilot, doctor and lawyer all before the age of 21) helping the FBI in their efforts to put an end to forgery. Abagnale was quoted saying, “We need a strong public service campaign. Consumers need to know that contributing to counterfeit culture contributes to much darker things—like terrorism. People might not realize that lives are literally at stake here.”
The panel for the luncheon, moderated by Harper’s Bazaar Publisher Valerie Salembier, included industry leaders Thomas Onda, Chief IP Counsel at Levis Strauss, Susan Engel, CEO at Portero Luxury and Alan Marks, Senior VP, Global Communications at eBay. Before the event began, instead of asking the fashionable crowd to put their cell phones away, Salembier urged them to tweet and use the hashtag #FANIF2011.
April 26, 2011 § Leave a comment
(Image taken from NY Post article)
According to a recent article in the NY Post this week, Councilwoman Margaret Chin is proposing a new bill to fine those who buy counterfeits up to $1,000. Chin’s district happens to be Chinatown, where people still flock to buy fake products.
“People are still coming, and the industry is growing, and we have to stop the demand. We need people to know that they are feeding this demand,” said Chin. “The punishment might seem draconian, but it’s necessary to curb the growing problem.”
The bill already has five co-sponsors and she has gained much supported for her fellow colleagues; all of whom are aware of the criminal activities associated with counterfeit goods. One manager of a Chinatown boutique said she supports the bill. “It’s wrong to sell [fake goods]. I don’t like people coming in here assuming we also sell fake stuff.”
The NY Post reports that if the bill is passed, some NYC law enforcement have expressed that the law would be hard to enforce. So we ask you, is it a good idea to penalize shoppers for buying fakes? Do you think this law would actually be enforced by officials?
April 20, 2011 § 6 Comments
This week two big seizures in the U.S. stand out to us. First, a counterfeit clothing ring in Chicago was busted by law enforcement. The counterfeiters worked several shops from the West to South sides of the city where over $150,000 in counterfeit clothing and shoes were confiscated. The 4,000 items included many Major League Baseball knockoffs as well as Timberland and Nike fakes. One of the nine men charged previously pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized use of a trademark and spent 6 months under court supervision. Maybe this time there should be a stricter punishment.
(Image from Chicago Tribune)
The second large seizure this week came from a flea market raid in South Carolina. 14 people renting space at the Anderson Jockey Lot (Belton flea market) have been charged in the sale of counterfeit recordings as well as illegal transportation, distribution or sale of counterfeit items. Law enforcement seized more than $250,000 in merchandise which included more than 9,000 DVDs, 1,000 CDs, Nike and Adidas footwear, MLB and NBA apparel, designer Coach, Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana handbags and other name brand clothing.
Remember, if you see a fake at a flea market or retail boutique, report it. These types of counterfeit goods take away taxes from your local economy, support gangs and terrorist organizations, and undermine the work of legitimate brands and designers.
April 14, 2011 § 1 Comment
The discussion over whether or not search engines should be responsible for promoting websites that sell counterfeit products remains a heated debate. A recent article in PC World summarizes a hearing last week about digital piracy. To date, Google has shut down about 50,000 accounts for attempting to use their Google Adword program to promote counterfeit goods. The hosting site Go Daddy has been shutting down all sites that have any sort of infringing content.
Kent Walker, senior vice president and general counsel at Google spoke about their fight against fakes:
“Google does bury the search results of sites that sell pirated or counterfeit products after complaints from copyright holders…But it’s difficult to filter Web searches ahead of time because searches for legal sites are often similar to searches for piracy or counterfeit sites, and Google doesn’t want to be in the position of deciding what sites should be excluded from search results.”
Nonetheless, Google is certainly taking the necessary precautions to protect the public from ads for counterfeit goods (see our recent blog post), but the question still remains if search engines should be held liable. Walker stated that lawmakers should focus on the advertising and financial transactions that pay for the websites selling counterfeits instead of focusing on search results.
In order to control the online counterfeit industry, companies and government agencies should work together. Google should do what they can to delete infringing accounts and hide search results for counterfeit sites. Brands should monitor the internet and work with prosecutors in shutting down websites selling counterfeits of their products. Hosting sites should shut down any sites that are infringing. Lastly, prosecutors and lawmakers should work with all parties in order to hinder counterfeiting online. Battling online counterfeits should be a global group effort in order to prevent criminals from selling fakes.
April 6, 2011 § Leave a comment
We are hearing more and more about the pharmaceutical industry using holograms for better anti-counterfeiting protection. According to a recent article put forth by The International Hologram Manufacturers’ Assn., the World Health Organization has estimated that annual earnings from the global sales of counterfeit and substandard medicines exceed $32 billion. This pushes the pharmaceutical industry to fight even harder against counterfeits.
Brands are not only using the holograms as a flashy point-of-sale, but they are going a step further providing authentication through the use of holograms as well as putting forth track-and-trace systems. These systems trace the product from its source as well as where it has been and where it is going to prove that the medication or product is authentic. This initiative requires all registered medicines, OTC pharmaceuticals, and traditional medicines to carry a uniquely numbered label built around a hologram.
The article makes a great point that all brands should consider:
Pharmaceutical companies and organizations involved in successful anti-counterfeiting efforts also recognize that it should not be the sole responsibility of the consumer to examine a hologram to check that the product is genuine. Rather than rely on untrained members of the public to identify counterfeits, it must be the primary responsibility of manufacturers and the enforcement agencies to ensure that fake pharmaceuticals should not be able to enter the legitimate supply chain in the first place.
A consumer should be able to go to their local pharmacy or drug store and trust that their Colgate toothpaste or diabetic medication is legitimate. In America, there are many that have that luxury, but in other countries, that just isn’t the case. Brands should do all that they can to protect the consumer and pharmacies should take the necessary precautions to make sure that their suppliers are trustworthy sources of medication. As a consumer, the best you can do is buy from a trusted pharmacy. Do not buy medication or supplements online unless you are sure it is an authorized reseller of the brand.