Seen and heard: counterfeiting news in brief

EC seeks views on illegal content online, fake goods seized in China, lawsuits for fake drug sellers, counterfeit airbags, Singapore border security, and growing interest in blockchain.

Consultation on illegal content online

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the tackling of illegal content online that includes counterfeit products and copyright infringement. The consultation, which is open until 25 June, is seeking experiences and challenges faced with the spread and detection of illegal online content and follows guidelines that the Commission issued in September last year and further recommendations in March. The consultation aims to collect information on perceptions and various opinions in regard to the effectiveness of voluntary measures to tackle illegal content online, as well as views concerning the need for additional steps from the Commission in this area. The Commission will explore before the end of 2018 possible further measures to improve the effectiveness of combating illegal content online.

Fake Australian products seized in China

More than A$6.3m-worth of counterfeit products, including Australian-branded wines, vitamins, foods and cosmetics, have been seized in two separate operations in China, ABC News reported. One raid followed a two-month investigation into fake Blackmores supplements comprising four criminal groups and 22 suspects, while the other involved a criminal racket of 13 suspects selling cases of fake Penfolds wine mixed with real bottles. Local media reports cited by ABC News claimed some of the fake products were making a profit of 1000 per cent despite being sold at a discount to the genuine product. For example, generic wine was bought for $4 and then sold as Penfolds for between $42 and $62.  

Los Angeles sues fake drug sellers

The US city of Los Angeles has filed three lawsuits against eight defendants for the sale of misbranded and counterfeit medications, including the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra and the corticosteroid Diprospan. The lawsuits are the result of a large multi-agency investigation that found thousands of counterfeit drugs being pumped into the US from Mexico and El Salvador and then sold online or from storefronts, with more than 440,000 fake meds making their way onto Los Angeles streets, Courthouse News Service reported.

Guilty pleas from counterfeit airbag peddlers

A brother and sister from the US city Albuquerque have pleaded guilty to selling counterfeit car airbags and airbag covers online, the Albuquerque Journal reports. The siblings would purchase the fake goods from overseas – many featuring the Honda brand – and then list them on websites including eBay, Craigslist and airbag specific sites. It was revealed in court documents that eBay once blocked the siblings from selling their items on the site because they had been deemed fake. The pair, who now face deportation to Mexico, were caught after selling a fake airbag and cover to an undercover homeland security officer in 2015.

New tech for border checks

Singapore is set to introduce a new X-ray scanning system on its road border with Malaysia in a bid to improve detection of illicit goods entering the country, according to Transport Security World. The system, which will work alongside existing manual checks, uses a powerful sensor to detect hidden compartments that could be used for smuggling goods, while other radiographic screening technology will be used to detect illicit drugs.

US Congress considers blockchain in supply chain

The US Congress has heard about the “almost limitless” potential of blockchain technology on global supply chains and its ability to combat counterfeit goods. The hearing, which follows a February hearing on the “emerging uses” for blockchain, saw testimony from representatives from shipping firm Maersk, logistics company UPS and baby goods company Luv n’care, as well as the Department of Homeland Security’s cyber security division director. According to, the witnesses emphasised the benefits that blockchain could bring to the current inefficient information exchange system in the supply chain, including increased speed and quality of transactions, transparency, auditability, automation and trust. There was also a broad call for a more standardised approach to implementing blockchain as the use of the technology in the supply chain became more popular.

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