The Fight Against Counterfeiting – A Global Problem

Counterfeiting is a global problem. The value of counterfeiting is estimated by the OECD to be $250 billion per year. In addition to the  considerable economic impact, counterfeits – such as for drugs, food fraud and liquor – can have serious health consequences.

Counterfeit Clothing

Counterfeit clothing  is extremely difficult to combat, especially since the quality of the clothing being imitated is increasing.

Counterfeiting has severe negative consequences on a company’s brand image and profits.

What can trademark owners do to protect their intellectual property? This article addresses the issue of how an “invisible pattern can put a stop to counterfeit designer clothing.” The pattern uses a new kind of thread that’s invisible and has unique optical properties that can be revealed under polarized lighting. A combination of textile fibers and dye molecules would be brand specific and very difficult to copy.

Counterfeit Drugs

Counterfeit drugs generated approximately $75 billion in revenue in 2010, according to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Pharmaceutical counterfeiting is increasing both in the U.S. and internationally.

Counterfeit drugs can be extremely dangerous since they are not inspected by a regulatory body. For example, online counterfeit Viagra could contain saw dust, blue printer ink, drywall or too much (or not enough) of an active ingredient. The ingredients that make up the counterfeit Viagra can lead to serious health consequences ranging from diarrhea and vomiting to brain damage and even death.

Making headlines, this article reports the conviction of an LA man for “trying to smuggle 40,000 phony erectile dysfunction pills into US.” A lab concluded that none of the ingredients in the fake Viagra pills matched the ingredients found in the real drug.

Counterfeit Liquor

Counterfeit alcohol is being manufactured on mass by organized gangs. Since 2005, HMRC seized almost 15 million litres of illegally produced counterfeit alcohol. You don’t know what you’re getting when you purchase counterfeit alcohol.

There are significant potential health risks associated with fake alcoholic beverages. Instead of using ethanol, (which is safe to drink in moderation), the following chemicals are often used as substitutes: automobile screen wash, cleaning liquids, nail polish remover and ethylene glycol (essentially antifreeze). Consuming such liquids has potential health consequences ranging from drowsiness and nausea to blindness, coma and in some cases, death.

Recently in the news, police bused a counterfeit liquor syndicate where 14 were arrested and 520 bottles were seized. The items had a street value of $336,000. The alcohol had been been watered down.

Companies can protect their brand by hiring a qualified, professional private investigator. Before hiring an investigative agency, do your research. Make sure the agency provides comprehensive physical and online market research and has a thorough understanding of social networking sites.

Photo Source: Flickr

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