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Making counterfeits uncool

Education is essential to winning the long term battle against fakes, said speakers at a session yesterday. “We have to teach consumers about the social harms associated with counterfeiting networks,” said Ed Kelly, of LaRiviere Grubman & Payne.

Kelly works for a charity that is trying to eliminate human trafficking in Southeast Asia, a problem that is linked to counterfeiting, and is trying to raise awareness about the poor working conditions and appallingly low wages that people making counterfeits in Asia have to endure.

“This is a problem that is not going to go away. It’s going get worse,” he said, adding that he wants it to become “uncool” and socially unacceptable to buy counterfeits.

In the U.S., David Tognotti of Monster Cable Products is facing the same problem of how to educate consumers not to buy counterfeit versions of their products, especially the popular line of Beats by Dr. Dre headphones.

Monster Cable has taken the direct route and has been using Twitter, Facebook, blogs and what Tognotti called “organic viral videos” and educate consumers about fakes. The company’s website also has a link to a counterfeiting information page listing approved suppliers and domains known to sell fake products.


“We are trying to attack the demand side. I would hope more companies would do this, but a lot of companies are fearful. They don’t want consumers to know that there are fakes out there,” said Tognotti. He added that he hadn’t found it as difficult to go public with the problem as expected, but stressed the importance of letting the top levels of the company know about the harm that counterfeiting is causing. 

The session, entitled Combating Counterfeit Goods: From Detection to Take-Down, also dealt with a number of practical issues, including how to build relationships with Customs and law enforcement officials.  Roxanne Elings of Greenberg Traurig also explained how to take down rogue websites.

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