60% of companies hit by pandemic-fuelled counterfeiting rise, survey finds

Trademark association provides insight into how companies are working to address counterfeiting

Counterfeits on the rise

Some 60% of companies surveyed in an anti-counterfeiting report from the International Trademark Association (INTA) said that counterfeiting-related problems had increased as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Anticounterfeiting Benchmarking Report, aimed at both in-house and outside counsel, focuses on providing brand owners with a comprehensive understanding of the changing nature of the counterfeit landscape.

The association distributed a 48-question survey which was developed and reviewed by the association’s research advisory council, members of its anti-counterfeiting committee and INTA staff. It was conducted in the final quarter of 2022 and in-house legal teams of 121 corporate members participated in the study, of whom 92 answered all the survey questions.

Respondents identified the economic downturn, the growth of online marketplaces and direct sales to consumers as some of the key reasons for the growing challenge. The report notes that these developments make it easier to target consumers directly, and more difficult for brand owners and enforcement agencies to detect and remove counterfeits from the the market.

The finding that the pandemic has led to a rise in counterfeiting activities reflects the findings from other studies and anecdotal evidence that indicate a shift to online shopping among consumers, bargain hunting and disruption of normal trade channels.

INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo said: “We know counterfeiting is among the top issues for our members and all IP stakeholders. In this data-driven world, INTA is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information which is vital to our efforts to address what is a scourge that is both criminal and a risk to consumers’ well-being.”

The top concerns identified were counterfeits, lookalikes/copycats and grey market/parallel imports.

Other key findings from the report included the fact that 40% of respondents used authentication technology, with marking technologies being the most common type; only 2% used blockchain technology.

Furthermore, over 50% surveyed said they outsourced key anti-counterfeiting activities. The majority also said that they were investing too little money and human resources in anti-counterfeiting initiatives – yet only 40% expected anti-counterfeiting investment to increase in the next one to three years.

Chief trademark counsel at Johnson & Johnson (USA) David McDonald said that the report was intended to promote information sharing and increase collaboration between brands across industries as well as globally. McDonald, who is also a member of INTA’s research advisory council, noted that: “The serious and wide-ranging threats posed by illicit trade make collaboration with other brand owners and key stakeholders absolutely vital.”

The executive summery is free to read, but the full report is only available for purchase by members, further details about the cost can be found on the INTA website.

The Anti-counterfeiting World Law Summit, which is hosted by The Global Legal Post, will take place in London on 18 October. For sponsorship enquiries contact [email protected] and to book  your place email [email protected]


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