Kusic and Kusic Private Investigators
Investigating Across the Lower Mainland Since 1994.

The Smart Consumer and the Problem With Counterfeit Websites

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“Global sales of counterfeit goods via the Internet from illegitimate retailers will reach $135 billion.”—MarkMonitor, Seven Best Practices for Fighting Counterfeit Sales Online

There is an increase in websites selling knock-off products online as counterfeiters move away from selling their goods locally at markets and swap parties to tapping into the global demand for counterfeits online.

Consumers that purchase counterfeit items from a foreign country, outside of Canada or the United States, likely have no recourse. (If buyers pay by credit card, they may be able to dispute the charges.)

Counterfeit goods are often inferior in quality, support organized crime and terrorists groups, and have significant health consequences, especially for certain items, such as drugs, air bags, toys, electrical goods, and food.

“It is important to stop the sale of counterfeit products over the Internet as it undermines legitimate businesses and also often causes health and safety risks to consumers,” said Rob Wainwright, director of Europe, in the statement from Washington.

There are efforts to enforce laws that make it illegal to sell counterfeit items, such as in recent news where 328 websites were seized for selling counterfeit goods.

Companies offer innovative solutions by using unique identifiers to protect brands from counterfeiting.

Also, brands sometimes take legal action to take down websites to help protect their brand online, however, it’s like whack-a-mole. For every site that gets taken down, there are many more that spring up, so it’s important for consumers to take an active role in the fight against counterfeiting online.

The challenge for buyers is that, at first glance, it is often difficult to determine whether a website is affiliated with the brand or is counterfeit.

Websites selling knock-offs often use a brand owner’s intellectual property including their graphics and logo. The site may look legitimate. The URL may seem like it’s associated with brand.

Websites will claim any number of things that make it look legitimate, such as using the (Better Business Bureau) BBB logo to show they are accredited, having the words TM (trademark) by the brand, and having testimonials.

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Brands often try to educate the consumer about the differences between a real and fake product. The challenge is that consumers often can’t be bothered to learn the nuances between the differences in what the real brand looks like versus a knock-off.

Counterfeiters use black-hat practices to boost their search engine rankings, meaning they may come up on the first page of your search results. This doesn’t mean that they are a credible company.

It’s also a problem that the appearance of fakes is constantly changing with a trend towards looking more and more like the real thing.

The next post, later this week, will identify how consumers can determine whether a website is selling counterfeits.

Photo Source: Flickr

Posted in: Counterfeiting, Intellectual Property, K&K Private Investigators, Kusic and Kusic Ltd.
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