Round up: A Week In Anti-Counterfeiting

June 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

This week in the fight against counterfeiting led to multiple arrests, seizures and partnerships:

  • Atlantic City, New Jersey law enforcement seized $150,000 worth of counterfeit merchandise from boutiques along the Atlantic City boardwalk. A total of 3,530 purses, wallets, clutches, bags, belts, shoes, scarves, belt buckles, jewelry, watches and leather goods also were seized. Via Press of Atlantic City.

 

  • Unilever announced it has pledged to support National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in the fight against counterfeit products in the Nigerian market. Via Business Day.

 

  • Police arrested and charged a man for unlawful use of unidentified sound recordings. 3,100 illegal DVDs valued at $7,800 were recovered. Via Plainfield Blotter.

 

  • Counterfeit alcohol served on a cruise in Turkey led to the hospitalization of 30 Russian tour guides and one killed. Doctors said the poisoning was from highly toxic methanol, or methyl alcohol. Via Bloomberg News.

 

  • The Kenya Anti-Counterfeit Agency asked the Kenyan government for more funds this week to up its staff and intensify research, which would help deal with counterfeit cases and thwart counterfeiters in Kenya. Via The Standard.

 

  • Toyota in Nigeria launched an anti-counterfeiting campaign against fake automobile parts. Counterfeit spare parts could result in short life span of engines due to wear, frequent visits to a mechanic, high maintenance costs and unguaranteed safety and security of the vehicle. Via PM News.

 

Protect IP Act: Will It Pass?

May 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Senate Judiciary Committee is voting on the Protect IP Act today, but will it pass? Outlined in the latest FANIF blog post, Senator Patrick Leahy reintroduced Protect IP about two weeks ago. Leahy is confident the bill will pass as AdWeek reports 12 of the committee’s 18 members are co-sponsors of the legislation.

Supporters of the bill include Microsoft, whose counsel Brad Smith, speaks out about their support of the potential new law on their blog:

“Microsoft is a company built on innovation and its protection through intellectual property rights, and we are committed to helping ensure that copyright is respected in the online environment. We look forward to working with others as this bill advances toward enactment.”

Since the beginning of the reinstated bill, Google has been very vocal about not backing the legislation. Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, spoke out saying the bill could set a “disastrous precedent” for freedom of speech. “I would be very, very careful if I were a government about arbitrarily [implementing] simple solutions to complex problems,” he said. “So, ‘let’s whack off the DNS’ (domain name systems). Okay, that seems like an appealing solution but it sets a very bad precedent because now another country will say ‘I don’t like free speech so I’ll whack off all those DNSs’ – that country would be China.

Twitter is a buzz about the bill tweeting with hashtag #ProtectIP:

“@UnderBill Censorship: the slipperiest slope? #protectip
“@marauderz I feel that Google is contesting the #protectip act because it can endanger Google Music.”
“@FashionCloture How will Google’s opposition affect #ProtectIP Act?
“@PRGPatentLaw@neverfakes @FashionCloture People seem to be nervous about any government authority to shut down websites, even sites with illegal content.”
“@SimoneBtrfly It’s fab the amount of support they’re getting!”

We are interested in the outcome of the vote today and its opposition’s efforts to stop the legislation.

Say Hello To The “PROTECT IP” Act

May 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

(Image Taken From Wired.com)

Last week Senator Leahy introduced his revision to the controversial Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA). The bill now stands in its new form, the PROTECT IP Act, short for “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property.” According to Wired.com, “under the new proposal, search engines, internet providers, credit card companies, and ad networks would all have cut off access to foreign “rogue sites”– and such court orders would not be limited to the government. Private rightsholders could go to court and target foreign domains, too.”

What we are most particularly interested in is the effect on search engines, such as our previous discussions surrounding Google AdWords. The PROTECT IP Act  “responds to concerns raised that search engines are part of the ecosystem that directs Internet user traffic and therefore should be part of the solution.” We agree, Google must help in being part of the solution.

Some key points of the PROTECT IP Act via Wired:

  • The bill is an attempt to deal with foreign sites which can be difficult for US enforcement to reach.
  • It does provide a more limited definition of sites “dedicated to infringing activities.”
  • Ad networks and payment processors will be protected if they “voluntarily cease doing business with infringing websites, outside of any court ordered action.”
  • Copyright and trademark holders are allowed to seek court orders directly, though these orders would only apply to payment processors and advertising networks (not to ISPs or search engines).
  • A search engine can simply cut off advertising for that reason and be immunized under the law.
  • Encourages everyone—domain name registries, search engines, payment processors, and ad networks—to cut off access to infringing sites that “endanger the public health.” That is, online pharmacies (which are often hotbeds of counterfeiting).

What are your thoughts on the new bill? Do you think it will further the government’s attempts to take down foreign rouge websites selling counterfeits?

The Backlash Against Fining New Yorkers

May 6, 2011 § 1 Comment

New York City has been very vocal about the new bill introduced by Councilwoman Margaret Chin that could fine shoppers up to $1,000 if they are caught buying a fake. The bill even includes possible jail time. Although there has been some backlash from the public, The Huffington Post reported that Chin has no intention of backing down. The idea behind the bill was to stop the demand for counterfeit designer goods, but many feel it is wrong to punish consumers. amNY also ran an article about how the bill has potentially started a “class war.” One man was quoted saying, “People who can’t afford high-status items are made to feel inferior, and no one wants to feel bad.”

We have seen a law like this before that has been put into place successfully. France is known for its zero tolerance law against fakes, fining violators up to €300,000 and threatening imprisonment. Here are examples of a few advertisements that the French Customs and Comité Colbert have put together to warn consumers about what they are in for if they buy a fake:


Our followers on Facebook and Twitter have also been speaking about the issue. Here is what they had to say:

Rashida M. – “I think it’s better to attack the people manufacturing the goods rather than the buyers some may not be aware of the goods are fraudulent… Seems un american to me…”

Erin S. – “We need more of that everywhere. I see so many fakes being carried around by women, it’s simply awful.”

@intetvalentos – “It’s not really the buyers that we should blame, it’s those people who create the demand for fake stuff. As long as it’s available in the market, people will buy it.”

@BAFFLEDblog “Stealing is stealing & infringing on someone’s rights is never OK. Fashion or not-there must be punishments to deter all crimes”

What are your thoughts on the issue?

Harper’s Bazaar Seventh Annual Anticounterfeiting Summit

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.”


(From the left: Alan Marks, Frank Abagnale, Valerie Salembier, Susan Engel, Thomas Onda and Fred Fellman)

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.

Memorable tweets:

@jessicakleiman I buy counterfeit products as part of my job – I once worked w/a counterfeiter who had a return policy, says Levi’s Onda #FANIF2011

@iamsamlim Fakes fund terrorism, fuel child labor abuse, destroy business plus they look awful.  #FANIF2011

@EHolmesWSJ Thomas Onda, IP counsel at Levi’s and panelist at anticounterfeiting summit, owns 900 pairs of jeans. Fashion folks gasped- #FANIF2011

@RoshniMurthy Marks says a pair of shoes is sold on ebay EVERY 7 SECONDS. #FANIF2011

@eye4style There are 95 million active buyers and sellers on @eBay. #themoreyouknow #fanif2011

@neverfakes: Happy to have Diane von Furstenberg @DVF, President of @CFDA in attendance #FANIF2011

@harpersbazaarus Can you guess which bag is fake? Answer is: They all are. #FANIF2011 http://t.co/Qj9GJ2t

For more information about the Summit, visit www.fakesareneverinfashion.com and the Bazaar Report.

Counterfeit Buyers Beware

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?

A Roundup: This Week’s Top Seizures

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.