This blog from ScotlandIS member, SnapDragon, details the damaging effects of counterfeit goods and how consumers can better detect copies and fakes.
In business, imitation is definitely not flattery. In the UK, 98% of SME businesses whose products have been ripped-off by counterfeiters reported a loss of turnover in a recent survey. For almost half of them, financial losses were more than 15%, and nearly one third say they have struggled to effectively run their business because of copying.
The survey, commissioned by brand protection company, SnapDragon Monitoring, showed that around 1 in 5 companies polled have experienced another business selling a poor-quality duplicate of their product. As online shopping continues to boom in our post covid world, coupled with advances in technology and increasingly sophisticated methods of sale, it is often hard to recognise a dodgy product for sale. SnapDragon’s poll found that 28% of people surveyed reported that they had mistakenly bought counterfeits for personal use. And, as the cost of living crisis escalates this is likely to only get worse as consumers seek cheaper alternatives.
In addition, 35% of respondents did not know that counterfeit products are often linked to serious organised crime. The global trade in fakes and counterfeits is worth €460 billion every year according to the United Nations and most of the money generated by selling fakes goes straight into the coffers of criminal organisations for investment into activities such as drugs, human trafficking and prostitution. The European Commission has estimated that criminals receive approximately as much money from selling fake goods as they do from selling illegal drugs. Criminals often infringe IP with fake domains to conduct illegal or harmful Internet activities including hosting child abuse sexual images, selling illegal drugs and the online sale of counterfeit goods
Counterfeiting is most often linked to recognisable, luxury brands, but it occurs across all aspects of consumer and business goods with many smaller businesses now also suffering the consequences.
With ongoing supply issues proving a concern for manufacturers, retailers and consumers, it is important for both consumers and businesses to understand the risks that counterfeiting poses.
Rachel Jones, CEO and founder of SnapDragon Monitoring, said: “We tend to think of fakes being only relevant to consumer products but the survey demonstrated that many small businesses had fallen victim to B2B counterfeits recently. While fake componentry may be something long-standing businesses are aware of, as an example, others have less knowledge and are easily duped into buying cheaper parts thinking they are original. This then puts the end consumer at risk, unknowingly”. The Intellectual Property Office’s recent IP Crime and Enforcement Report also highlights that social media and trading sites have also become a more prevalent platform for the sale of counterfeits, and encourages consumers to be aware of this increase when using these channels.
Rachel Jones added: “Increasing awareness about counterfeit products, what to look out for, and how to report suspected fakes is key to reducing the prolific numbers we’re seeing across all industries.”
Consumers are encouraged to do their research on unfamiliar brands before purchase, and should remember that deals which seem too good to be true often are. Suspected counterfeits bought online should be reported and refunded from the site from which they have been bought and should also be reported to Trading Standards.
Businesses wishing to protect themselves from counterfeiting should monitor the web, social media and domains regularly and take action, using intellectual property, to remove illicit listings.
Registered intellectual property is a powerful tool in the fight against fakes, empowering businesses to request the removal of illicit listings and sellers. And keeping an eye out for copies and fakes through formal, or informal internet monitoring, is always recommended.
For more information about SnapDragon’s friendly offline, fierce online brand protection services, visit https://snapdragon-ip.com/