In support of World Anti-Counterfeiting Day yesterday (June 6, 2018), the International Trademark Association (INTA) offered key recommendations to trademark owners and Internet-related companies on how to address the proliferation of online sales of counterfeit products.
“World Anti-Counterfeiting Day presents an international opportunity to raise awareness of the growing threat that counterfeiting poses to brand owners, governments, and the economy, as well as to the health and safety of consumers,” said INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo. “A cooperative, unified front around the globe is necessary to attack this critical problem.”
Appearing in the recently updated INTA guide entitled Addressing the Sale of Counterfeits on the Internet, the recommendations are as follows:
- Search advertising services should have a clear and effective complaint process publicly available to report counterfeit ads.
- To the extent that there are legal frameworks applicable to removal of content on search engines and the legal grounds implicate behavior used by counterfeiters, search engines should provide an efficient process for parties to submit removal requests.
- Online trading platforms should strengthen and streamline procedures for identifying and taking more effective action against repeat offenders, as well as tighten repeat offender policies.
- Payment service providers should have in place policies prohibiting the use of their services for the purchase and sale of goods that are determined to be counterfeit under applicable law.
- Trademark owners should take steps on an ongoing basis to educate online platforms, other intermediaries, and the public as to their trademarks, as well as to actively monitor offers on online marketplace, shopping, and social media platforms, with the aim of identifying counterfeits, and should notify the platforms and payment service providers if applicable.
- Social media sites should have a clear and effective process publicly available to deal with the sale and offering of counterfeit products.
- Registrars and registries should adopt, publish, and enforce intellectual property rights policies and effect appropriate due diligence to address and minimize misuse of their services, which they will clearly communicate and indicate on their sites and include in the contracts and terms of service that they conclude with their customers.
- Logistics companies should have simple procedures in conformity with the applicable laws of the respective jurisdictions for the sharing of information with enforcement agencies and trademark owners investigating counterfeiting activities and should have mechanisms in place for blacklisting consignors/consignees found to be involved in counterfeiting activities.
Anti-counterfeiting is one of INTA’s policy priorities. The guide, which was prepared by the Association’s Anticounterfeiting Committee, notes that “the impact of counterfeiting is growing exponentially—mostly due to the proliferation of counterfeiting on the Internet.” It points to the involvement of criminals and criminal networks that “can hide behind the anonymity of the Internet” and benefit from its international reach.
It is estimated that by 2022, the global total value of both counterfeit and pirated goods, including digital piracy, could reach US $2.8 trillion, according to a 2017 impact study, The Economic Impacts of Counterfeiting and Piracy, released by Frontier Economics and commissioned by INTA and the International Chamber of Commerce’s Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy. The study also forecasts net job losses due to counterfeiting and piracy will reach as high as 5.4 million by 2020.
“The enormity of this issue cannot be overstated,” said Mr. Sanz de Acedo. “That is why it is important for trademark owners and Internet-related companies to work together to implement strong measures that will educate consumers and raise awareness of the risks involved, and why INTA will continue to support legislation, regulations, and trade agreements throughout the world that increase national and international enforcement mechanisms against counterfeiting and piracy.”
To read Addressing the Sale of Counterfeits on the Internet, visit: https://www.inta.org/Advocacy/Documents/2018/Addressing_the_Sale_of_Counterfeits_on_the_Internet_021518.pdf
To download The Economic Impacts of Counterfeiting and Piracy impact study, visit: https://www.inta.org/Communications/Pages/Impact-Studies.aspx