Seen and heard: counterfeiting news in brief

Carmaker sues Amazon, fake building materials, QR codes on roubles, UK counterfeiter prosecuted, fakes donated, and a new online blockchain.

Daimler sues Amazon again

German carmaker Daimler is suing e-commerce giant Amazon with a second trademark infringement lawsuit, reports Reuters. Daimler alleges that the online marketplace is selling counterfeit Mercedes-Benz wheel centre caps on its platform, and is even facilitating the illicit activity with weak enforcement efforts. The carmaker first sued Amazon in April 2016, alleging that the tech firm was profiting from the sale of knockoff Mercedes-Benz wheels. An International Trade Commission probe was launched in response but Daimler says the outcome has left several issues unresolved.

Counterfeits surge in Kenyan construction boom

Authorities in Kenya are urging Kenyans to verify building materials in the wake of counterfeits flooding the market in response to the construction boom in the country. Cheaper products, including steel, pipes and pipe fittings, valves, electric equipment, roofing materials and cement, are targeting buyers who are looking to cut costs on building materials but the fakes have resulted in property damage, collapsed buildings and deaths, says Suppliers are being advised to verify authentic products or risk prosecution.

Russia introduces QR codes on bank notes

New 200 and 2,000 Russian ruble bills will feature a QR code as an additional security measure, according to a report. The Quick Response code, which can be scanned using a smartphone and QR code reader app, links to Russia’s Central Bank, which provides details on the currency’s security features. The new bills will begin circulating in December.

Counterfeit toy merchant told to pay back profits

A company director involved with a £1.5m ($1.98m) counterfeit toy operation in the UK has been ordered to pay back £619,286 of his profits from the illicit sales by January next year or face five years in prison, according to the Blackpool Gazette. In April, Jonathan “Jonny” Kahn, 64, of Parkway, Golders Green, London, director of company Amazing Savings, was found guilty of 34 trademark offences involving the importation, storage and selling of about 256,000 counterfeit toys, including fake-branded Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Spiderman toys. A Proceeds of Crime investigation has now found that Kahn benefited from his crimes to the tune of £619,286.

Counterfeits donated to hurricane victims

Police in Wisconsin, US, have decided to donate more than 40 pairs of fake UGG boots and more than 300 bogus North Face jackets to the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, says The counterfeit goods had been seized in a raid during the St Martin’s Fair over the Labor Day holiday weekend. The police have received permission from the legitimate brand owners to donate rather than destroy the apparel, and are working with Mana Ministries, a Milwaukee-based charitable organisation, as part of its Disaster Relief Drive.

Blockchain bid to help secure online marketplaces

Blockchain based platform Soma (Social Marketplace) has launched an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) in a bid to provide a track and trace system for online marketplaces such as Amazon, Alibaba and eBay. Soma’s Interactive Item Card aims to provide a digital representation of every physical item listed on its blockchain platform, including ownership data, physical condition, authenticity and price history, which should impact the value of the physical item. The company believes the technology will revolutionise how goods are bought and sold online.

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