With Christmas just around the corner, we thought it would be appropriate to focus on online counterfeiting, a problem that is arguably much worse in December as hordes of people use the services of e-commerce sites. Outside of China, eBay is one of the most popular destinations for many shoppers, ranking in internet analyst Alexa’s list of top 20 most visited websites by traffic.
But following an investigation by consumer rights group The Counterfeit Report into fakes sold on the site, the group urged eBay to do more to tackle counterfeiting. In response, the company told TBO that its anti-counterfeiting procedures are adequate and that it is “fighting the same fight” as The Counterfeit Report.
Rather than taking sides here, it seems one of the clearest conclusions is that consumers often struggle to separate the real deal from a rip-off. Yes, some consumers are unscrupulous themselves, but brands could do more to raise awareness about how to detect a product’s authenticity.
Too often, it seems, right owners and policy makers tout misleading figures about the economic damage of IP infringement. One statistic, from the US Homeland Security and Investigations, is that had all the IP-infringing goods seized by US authorities in fiscal year 2013 been genuine, they would have been worth $1.7 trillion. Yes, that’s $1.7 trillion.
As is often stated, however, these figures are arguably specious because not everyone who buys a fake product would ever consider buying an authentic one. Reversing this trend may never be possible—although brands should promote a reasonable discussion about IP and economics—so companies should therefore offer a helping hand to those consumers who are looking for a legitimate product but who are currently being duped.
We hope you enjoy the final Trademarks & Brands Online newsletter of the year.
Ed Conlon, Group editor