The impact of counterfeiting on consumers and businesses

 Published in June 2020, EUIPO’s “2020 Status on IPR Infringement” report shows that e-commerce has fostered the phenomenon of counterfeiting. The majority of counterfeit products come from Asia. These products are reconditionned in smaller boxes in countries such as Albania, Ukraine or Morocco.

The Covid-19 pandemic has not diminished this trend. On the contrary, the online shopping has increased the trend as stated in the “2020 Consumer Buying Behavior Report” of the company Intelligence Node tracing consumer’s behaviour.

Due to the forced closure of stores, consumers increased their online purchases. Thus, the counterfeiting phenomenon expanded, as well. According to this report, most consumers are attracted by a cheaper price, but they are completely unaware that they are buying a counterfeit product.

The report shows that:

– More than 50% of internet buyers search Google, Amazon and other marketplaces before buying. They look for the product description, features, price and possible discounts.

This is what can lead them to choose websites promoting counterfeit products, since:

– 70% of buyers opt for counterfeiting for price reasons.

– 82% of the buyers had indicated that they would continue to buy online even when the stores reopen.

In addition, a survey published by the French consumer association UFC- Que Choisir, on October 22nd, 2020, showed that online frauds, on an online purchase, are not always reimbursed by banks. Only one out of three frauds per year was reimbursed last year. The bank generally blamed the consumer for negligence.

The new DSP2 Directive (European Payment Services Directive 2nd version) requires that the transaction must be confirmed by the bank through a “strong authentication” system, when making an online purchase. The French authorities have given a deadline for the first quarter of 2021 for all the banks to be compliant.

In light of these elements, companies must actively protect their intellectual property rights, including property on the Internet, to avoid the drop in sales and the loss of customers.  Indeed, it is known that consumers who are victims of a scam will tend to turn away from the company whose products or services have been counterfeited.

An effective defence of the brand on the Internet is carried out through a strategy that includes prior searches and surveillance. The prior search provides a snapshot of the current situation of the trademark on the Internet (existing infringements, potential prior art in certain countries, etc.). The surveillance allows the detection of all domain name registrations reproducing or imitating the trademark, from the moment the surveillance is set up. It keeps in check any potential infringement as soon as it is detected.