A couple of months ago I went to the Trademark Expo in Washington, D.C. at the Patent and Trademark Office. Among the cartoon characters and licensed products there were booths full of seized counterfeit products that could have fooled any buyer.
Most people think of counterfeit goods as the luxury products sold on a street corner, like fake Rolexes and Gucci purses. It seems harmless until you see the counterfeit pharmaceuticals and engine parts. And no one can forget the tainted counterfeit dog food from China. I had a very hard time distinguishing the real toothpaste from the counterfeit. Or the real Jack Daniels from the fake. Just about anything and everything that’s made has been counterfeited and many of those counterfeit products were on display at the expo.
Over 750 billion dollars in counterfeit goods are sold every year worldwide, costing the U.S. hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions taken out of our economy. My patent examiner told me that the government is doing everything they can to stop it, but the problem is overwhelming. The lure of easy money from counterfeiting is great and the jail time too lenient.
So what can you do to avoid buying these products and contributing to the problem? Buy from reputable brick and mortar or online retailers. Especially in a bad economy it can be tempting to want to save money. But make sure you are buying from the source or from a reputable retailer.
I’ve fought hard to stop counterfeiters of my own swiggies brand and monitor all activity at the ports and online. I deal with a well known family factory who manufacturers toys for the largest companies in the world. Their quality is always monitored and tested for safety.
So, the next time you see a deal that looks too good to be true, it probably is. And to help combat this problem, if you spot counterfeit products, please contact The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center at www.iprcenter.gov.