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Social media and the fight against counterfeiting

August 21, 2017


Nick Ismail explored in an article how social media plays a role in the fight against counterfeiting in the ever-growing market of online resellers.

In an article published by information age Nick Ismail explores how through the growing social media, mobile apps, online marketplaces and instant messaging platform availabilities and connectivity “the counterfeiting business has soared in recent years”.

The article says that “buying a product online should be as safe, secure and transparent as walking into a store.”

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) latest figures “reveal the exponential growth of counterfeiting across the world. In 2013, international trade in counterfeit and pirated goods represented 2.5% of world trade (compared to 1.9% in 2005). In total, that’s around €411 billion – roughly equivalent to the GDP of Austria. The Image Consumables Coalition of Europe, Middle East and Africa (ICCE), says  “counterfeited printer and toner cartridges cause manufacturers €1.6 billion every year.” According to the article, “EUIPO found that 10 percent of consumers bought counterfeit products because they were misled, while another 35 percent have wondered whether the product they purchased was genuine or not.”

Ismail continues: “Both consumers and manufacturers need to have trust in their digital environments. Therefore, adequate, up-to-date and even future-oriented legislation against counterfeiting is essential.

“For European countries in particular, anti-counterfeiting legislation should be aligned with the main objective of the European Commission’s Digital Single Market strategy – the specific aim of which is to build trust in the digital environment.” As an example for the printer industry, Ismail uses Lexmark who offer a “Check to Protect” program to check for authenticity of their products.

Ismail says that “ultimately, intermediaries, such as Internet providers and search engines, as well as the corresponding routes to market, such as social media platforms, play the crucial role. The key to tackling the growth of counterfeiting depends on the ability to prevent goods from reaching markets in the first place.“

With the increased use of social media and search engines and promotion of the counterfeit products, the easiness of availability and access of the counterfeit products increases. Ismail continues “(…), they must be increasingly held accountable for the content they present to the public. Current voluntary measures are no longer enough.

“An obligation needs to be put in place and proactive, proportionate and appropriate measures need to be applied to all actors of the value chain – especially media platforms – in order to prevent the infringement of intellectual property. Essentially, it all comes down to legislation keeping up with digitalisation. If we can update existing laws to make modern ways of selling good as safe and secure as the traditional ways, we will build trust in the online world and given confidence to consumers and businesses alike.”

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