Intellectual Property

Filtering Out Counterfeits

You may be part of enriching the world’s largest global criminal enterprise. And if not you, there is a really good chance that someone in your immediate family is doing so. Illicit opioid sales? Sex trafficking? State-sponsored cyber-crimes? None of those compete with the counterfeiting of goods. 

According to the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, total trade of pirated and counterfeit goods is a $1.7 trillion per year industry. And it is a growth industry. By 2022 the total is projected to grow to $2.8 trillion and deprive the global economy of 5.4 million jobs. Specific to counterfeiting, one in four consumers have unknowingly purchased counterfeit goods — most commonly makeup and skincare products but also a large volume of pharmaceuticals and supplements. Customs and Border Protection indicates that the flood of counterfeits into the U.S. comes overwhelmingly comes from China and Hong Kong, together clocking in at 88 percent of the production of counterfeit and pirated goods seized.

Counterfeit goods making their way into the supply chain are a problem for any industry. The problem is greater for the consumers who pay for the goods but receive bogus products for which they paid the full price believing the items were legitimate. When those goods are related to health or safety the dangers they pose are amplified even more. The result is people either not being treated for their conditions which are left to worsen, being poisoned by contaminated drugs or even dying. Often overlooked is the rampant counterfeiting of health-related products such as water filters.

Counterfeit water filters are bought online and even in stores every day by unknowing consumers. Given that reportedly forty percent of supposedly brand name items purchased online are counterfeit this is not too surprising. Consumers seeking a bargain are often fooled into buying a bogus product that may even feature an illegally used trademark or design. The product they receive might not even fit correctly and most likely will not perform as advertised, potentially leading to water damage from leaks, voiding the warranty on the refrigerator, and certainly not filtering out impurities from the water. All the consumer is buying is a hassle and a potentially dangerous product.

So, how to avoid the dangers of bad products and stop feeding the growth industry of globally traded counterfeits? Given the widespread counterfeiting of water filters, consumers are best served buying directly from a trusted refrigerator manufacturer. Government also has a role. Government needs to provide the necessary enforcement, making sure the teeth of enforcement are brought to bear in the laws prohibiting the sale of counterfeit goods. In addition, elected officials are uniquely placed to raise the awareness of the health and safety impacts of many issues, including this one.

By nearly every measurement the United States has the safest and most controlled drug supply in the world. Yet criminals still push stolen, out of date, tainted or even flat out fake pharmaceuticals into the supply chain. The same is true in water filters, devices designed to protect us from harm. Those harms need to be better understood by more people so that consumers can protect themselves accordingly, protecting their homes, families and society.

In Depth: Intellectual Property

Innovation and the intellectual property (IP) often underpinning it are crucial drivers of human progress. Innovation saves lives, facilitates human connections that have even sparked revolutions and entertains and enchants people around the globe. Pharmaceuticals, computer operating systems, social networking sites and films are all tangible examples of the intellectual…

+ Intellectual Property In Depth