The Growing Problem of Counterfeits
Counterfeit products are an enormous problem for businesses all over the world. Counterfeiters trade on the good-will of name brand products, making cheap knock-offs. Counterfeiters easily (and conservatively) cost brand owners many hundreds of billions of dollars each year. According to a 2016 report of the the Global Innovation Policy Center of the United States Chamber of Commerce, global physical counterfeiting amounts to $461,000,000,000 a year in imported fake goods.
Counterfeiting is also a far bigger story than loses to big companies and the associated loss of downstream economic activity, although those losses to jobs, loss of revenue and taxation, and inferior consumer products are all very real. Those buying knock-off goods are also increasingly (and unwittingly) supporting organized crime, including drug cartels and terrorists, who look to the generous profits that can be earned and exceptionally low jail terms even if they do get caught counterfeiting.
“Counterfeiting today represents a tremendous and ever-increasing global threat,” reads a 2016 report of the GIPC titled Measuring the Magnitude of Global Counterfeiting. “Counterfeit products— from goods and merchandise, tobacco products, and industrial parts to banknotes and medicines— circulate across the globe. These products cause real damage to consumers, industries, and economies.”
The situation with counterfeits has only grown in size and severity since the world has turned to doing business online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Counterfeits are a serious risk to our business,” said Anna Dalla Val, Director of Global Brand Relations for Amazon, during a webinar series on intellectual property and the innovation ecosystem produced by the Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in April 2021. “If customers cannot trust our products, they will buy elsewhere,” Val told the audience. “If sellers cannot trust the platform, they will sell elsewhere.”
Among other things, our panel will discuss:
- Legislative efforts pending in Congress to address the growing issue of counterfeits, the likely chance of such reforms being enacted and what impact these actions are likely to have.
- The importance of law enforcement cooperation and working with U.S. Customs.
- Amazon’s efforts to fight counterfeiting, including removing billions of bad listings, stopping millions of bad actor accounts before they published a single listing and creating a Counterfeit Crimes Unit dedicated to investigating illicit counterfeiting activity and to work with law enforcement agencies and brands to pursue bad actors.
- How the “whack a mole” type monitoring brand owners must perform is becoming increasingly difficult as counterfeiters become more sophisticated.
- How social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and others are often matched with hidden web chats such as WhatsApp or Telegram in order to transact in counterfeit products.