Counterfeiting is, unfortunately, a fact of life for most successful branded goods companies. If a product sells well and gains an international reputation, it will be targeted by criminal organisations who seek to take advantage of that reputation by distributing fake products into key markets. Traditionally this meant market stalls and less reputable retail outlets; more frequently this now means selling fake products via the internet, or the setting up of fake websites “cloning” the brand’s own site to defraud customers.
We have managed the enforcement programmes of a number of our clients for many years, with remits covering global as well as local enforcement. Tony Stephens, our Managing Director, was for many years a board member of SNB REACT, the European anti-counterfeiting organisation whose objective is to provide a pan-European anti-counterfeiting resource for its members.
We recognise the need to act proactively within the enforcement community to ensure our brands are looked after. To this end we are closely involved with the enforcement authorities (e.g. Customs, Trading Standards), to whom we provide brand-specific education and whom we assist in monitoring the marketplace to identify and take action against counterfeiters. This strategy has a dual objective: firstly, to keep to a minimum the appearance of counterfeits in our clients’ key markets, and secondly, to identify the source of those counterfeits and take strong action to close them down.
We have managed enforcement programmes in conjunction with local authorities, lawyers and investigators in China with a significant degree of success, which has seen the breaking up of counterfeit networks and the arrest and prosecution of the individuals spearheading them. This resource is a significant factor in differentiating us from most other law firms.