The fight against counterfeit goods is job that never ends, and sometimes just gets harder. Since 1982, the global trade in illegitimate goods has increased from $5.5 billion to approximately $600 billion annually. So, no wonder that, in the past three weeks, there have been as many events on the challenges of and potential solutions to counterfeiting.
The Seventh Global Congress on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy Conference drew 850 delegates from 100 countries to Istanbul at the end of April to tackle what Turkish Minister of Customs and Trade, Hayati Yazici, called “the considerable negative repercussions generated by the trade in counterfeit and pirated goods on the economy and on the health and safety of consumers”.
The International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC) convened days later for its annual Spring Conference in Dallas, Texas, and the International Trademark Association’s annual meeting is concluding today, also in Dallas.
It’s with good reason that this topic gets so much attention. According to the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC , counterfeiting costs U.S. businesses $200 billion to $250 billion annually and is directly responsible for the loss of more that 750,000 American jobs. And that doesn’t even take into account the costs of consumer health and safety.
With ecommerce gaining in importance to the global economy – global online sales surpassed $1 trillion in 2012 for the first time – online counterfeiting becomes a larger part of the discussion. One of the IACCpanels, for example tackled Counterfeiters Anonymous: Rogue Merchants and their Criminal Support Networks. The panel examined “the intricate web of entities facilitating modern counterfeit e-commerce” and identified “the most effective choke-points for addressing such networks.”
Cybersquatted domains are one of those choke points and are responsible for sending malware, stealing identities, and yes, counterfeiting. Cybersquatters dupe unsuspecting customers, making them think that they are on a brand website getting authentic content, or taking advantage of the fact that some consumers actively seek out counterfeit content (and set up an online shop on a domain name such as the hypothetical FakePradaHandbags.com).
One way to strike a blow to online counterfeiting is to make it more difficult for cybersquatters to register domain names containing trademarks. In Istanbul, INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said he has “seen the strong partnerships between the public and private sectors, other affected industries and government stakeholders make an overwhelming difference. We must continue working together to address these evolving challenges and find increasingly innovative solutions.”
Powerful things happen when brand owners, regulators, and law enforcement work together. CADNA is working with law enforcement and the federal government to increase penalties under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA). This bill might serve as a model for other countries because stronger anti-cybersquatting legislation will strike the most damaging blow against counterfeiting.