Seen and heard: counterfeiting news in brief

Swatch vs Amazon, online fakes in India, Adidas and Reebok, smartphone seizures, Russian blockchain project and Malaysian counterfeits.

Swatch slams Amazon over anticounterfeiting efforts

The chief executive of Swiss watch company Swatch has claimed that e-commerce giant Amazon is doing little to “actively” fight fakes and that its Chinese counterpart Alibaba is much better at addressing counterfeit concerns. Speaking to CNBC, Nick Hayek said that Alibaba was “fighting actively” against fakes, unlike Amazon, which, Hayek claimed, refuses to even enter into discussions with sellers, such as Swatch, into how it can actively curb the illicit behaviour. The comments follow news late last year that a potential deal between Swatch and Amazon had stalled because the marketplace had refused to commit to policing counterfeits as part of an agreement with the watch firm.

More than a third of consumers bought fakes online

A survey by the Indian social media platform LocalCircles has revealed that 38 per cent of consumers have received a fake product from an e-commerce site, with 11 per cent saying the product came from Amazon. The e-commerce sites Snapdeal and Flipkart were also found guilty, cited by 12 per cent and 6 per cent of respondents respectively. The survey also asked consumers what online marketplaces should be required to do by law in response to a counterfeit purchase – 79 per cent said e-commerce sites should be forced to pay some penalty in addition to product return and refund. Meanwhile, 98 per cent believed sites should blacklist sellers found to be selling counterfeits.

Adidas and Reebok target Instagram sellers

Sports brands Adidas and Reebok have filed a lawsuit targeting more than 50 accounts on Instagram that are selling counterfeit goods. The brands claim the “unknown” but likely China-based sellers are paying for sponsored posts to promote the fakes, according to The Fashion Law. “As part of their overall infringement and counterfeiting scheme, the defendants are all employing and benefiting from substantially similar, paid advertising and marketing strategies” both “within search engine results” and on social media which is driving traffic, the publication says, citing court documents. Adidas and Reebok are seeking $2m from each of the 53 defendants for trademark infringement plus damages.

Raids seize fake smartphone accessories

Almost 20 people have been arrested in Hong Kong after raids on 12 mobile phone shops resulted in the seizure of 100 smartphones and 3,000 counterfeit accessories featuring brands including iPhone, Samsung, Xiaomi and Sony. According to the South China Morning Post, the phones were used but were being sold as new, with the counterfeit products having prices 40 to 50 per cent lower than the genuine items. The suspected leader of the syndicate is believed to have been among those arrested.

Russia to pilot blockchain for meds

The Russian government has announced plans to conduct a blockchain pilot to test a system to track and trace the movement of medicines, says. The move, which will be launched this month in the Novgorod region, is aimed at addressing counterfeit drugs and the resale of prescription medicines. A database of electronic prescriptions has already been established, which integrates with the local hospital system and an Ethereum-based blockchain ecosystem. If successful, the blockchain initiative, which is currently costing 5m rubles ($80,000), may be rolled out across the country.  

INTA pushes for counterfeit research in Malaysia

The International Trademark Association (INTA) has called for more research on the illicit trade of counterfeit goods in Malaysia, reported. The move would aid policy and improve public awareness, which would strengthen the rights for small and medium sized enterprises. More research would also feed into better enforcement, as well as boosting Malaysia’s economic growth, the body said during an intellectual property rights seminar.

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