PR: BASCAP: Intermediaries play crucial role to protect supply chains from counterfeiting and piracy

The International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) joined the International Trademark Association (INTA) on 21 September in Beijing to host the third in a global series of workshops under the theme ‘Intermediaries and Rights Holders – Working Together to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy’.

In the face of growing levels of counterfeiting and piracy in Asia and China, the Beijing meeting targeted measures that intermediaries can adopt to better protect their supply chains from the infiltration of fake products.

"The purpose of this workshop is to help responsible intermediaries more effectively deal with vulnerabilities in their operations," said BASCAP Director Jeffrey Hardy. "Our success here depends on cooperation between rights holders and supply chain intermediaries to rapidly implement systems that can prevent the sale of counterfeit and pirated goods."

Workshop panels were based on the BASCAP study, Roles and Responsibilities of Intermediaries: Fighting Counterfeiting and Piracy in the Supply Chain, addressing several of the intermediary categories covered in the report, including transport operators, landlords and ecommerce platforms.

In his opening remarks, INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo called for enhanced voluntary collaboration and stressed the need for intermediaries to continue taking steps independently and in cooperation with rights holders and governments to stop counterfeiters' abuse of distribution networks.

Peng Zengtian, Director for the Chinese Government's National Leading Group on the Fight against IPR Infringement Law and Regulation, announced during his keynote presentation that "Intellectual Property Rights protection is a top priority and the Chinese government is increasing its role, including more interagency cooperation and utilising information technologies to detect infringements including mobile and machine learning technologies." He added: "Our greater role can be strengthened with a combination of better law enforcement and business input, including a greater role for business associations to assist us."

A panel discussion on Anti-counterfeiting Challenges of the Internet Marketplace was of particular pertinence given online counterfeit offers have grown into billions on popular online shopping marketplaces like Ebay and Alibaba, and social media sites like Facebook and Instagram.

Louise Delcroix from eBay Singapore delineated the tools her company makes available to keep counterfeits off the shopping platform, including the verified rights owners programme and an online law enforcement partnership. Zhi-Fei Ye of the Alibaba Group explained a new programme the company is using to proactively detect infringement online, along with efforts targeted at logo blurring, haze cleaning, repeat infringers and offline investigations.

Alvin Yung of Chanel Hong Kong explained the challenges the luxury brand has in keeping pace with millions of fake Chanel products offered online each day. In the cooperative spirit of the workshop, he explained how Chanel has been working with platforms like eBay for many years, and he highlighted the growing challenge of social media platforms which are rapidly growing as havens for counterfeiters.

The workshop also addressed measures to stop the cross-border shipment of fakes and smuggled products, such as illicit white cigarettes, that exploit the same supply chain networks and free trade zones to find their way into legitimate markets.

"Brand owners recognise the value of the efforts promoted by BASCAP in working with transport intermediaries, including ocean carriers and freight forwarders, to find the best solutions to stop illicit operators from abusing supply chains," said Matteo Mattei of Philip Morris International Management SA. "Under the leadership of BASCAP we've all joined forces to prevent the shipment of illicit goods on vessels, particularly through the promotion of Know Your Customer (KYC) policies."

Participants examined Beijing's Silk Market-infamous for selling counterfeits of every kind-and addressed measures property owners can take to prevent the misuse of their property by tenants to sell illicit products.

Zeeger Vink, Global Director of Anti-counterfeiting at Maus Frères, said: "Public authorities must recognise that local markets selling counterfeits are not harmless crimes and they must take steps to deny commercial premises to counterfeiters."

"Public displays of counterfeiting, like the Silk Market, send the wrong signal to consumers, that lawlessness of a certain kind [counterfeiting] is somehow acceptable," Mr Vink said.

Mr Hardy concluded: "Our partnership with INTA is necessary to educate the business community on steps we can undertake now, in advance of government regulations, to deal with supply chain vulnerabilities."

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