PR: George Mason's TraCCC launches second annual hackathon to fight counterfeiters

George Mason University's Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC) is pleased to announce its second annual Bring Down Counterfeiting Hackathon.

This event awarded $50,000 in prizes last year in a policy-focused competition that attracted over 200 registrants from around the world. This year TraCCC is partnering with the US Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center to challenge teams from U.S. academic institutions, companies, or other affiliations to design and propose novel technical and policy solutions that prevent counterfeit and pirated goods from entering the stream of commerce and reaching the hands of consumers. They are also seeking tools that help recognize the spoofing of official US government websites, trademarks, and other services. The hackathon has announced a grand prize of $20,000 for the best solution presented. Strategy and analytic firm Blue Clarity returns to administer the competition.

Counterfeiting remains a persistent retail-industry problem around the world. Counterfeiters deprive brand owners of the value of their intellectual property, compete unfairly with honest entrepreneurs and may place the health and safety of consumers at risk. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates that pirated and counterfeit products make up 2.5 percent of world trade or roughly $464 billion a year. Counterfeiting harms consumers, innovators, and businesses, and may intersect with other nefarious activities, such as illicit trafficking in narcotics, arms, persons, and wildlife. Counterfeiters attack even the means and services that governments have put in place to protect legitimate intellectual property rights. Tactics such as spoofing of government websites and forging verification documents, hamper the ability of innovators, particularly under-resourced individuals and small businesses, to protect and enforce their intellectual property against counterfeit or pirated goods.

This year, challenge organizers are looking for novel technical solutions such as new technology to advance counterfeited product identification devices or advanced algorithms to secure supply chains and identify counterfeit goods. The most desirable solutions should have direct applicability to stated challenges that government agencies like the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and others are actively working to overcome.

Dr. Louise Shelley, Director of TraCCC at George Mason University explains TraCCC's commitment to studying and addressing the industry-wide, global challenge of counterfeiting: "Counterfeiting is a crime that affects us all. This hackathon will bring students together with policymakers, academic institutions, domain and private sector experts, and other professionals to raise awareness of the threats and generate powerful new ideas to stop this criminal activity. The results will also be used to inform our ongoing research on counterfeit and other criminal supply chain networks."

This challenge launched in August and is open to anyone. Registration for the event is free and not only offers the opportunity to win $20,000 but also to learn about what can be done to combat counterfeiting. See for competition details and to register. Teams will have several weeks to learn more from an array of public and private-sector experts and stakeholders about the global scope of the counterfeiting challenge, the societal and economic risks, industry best practices, and more. Full hackathon rules, submission guidelines, and judging criteria can be found here.

About George Mason

George Mason University is Virginia's largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls 39,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility.

About Blue Clarity, LLC

Blue Clarity is a Customer Experience and IT Strategy women-owned small business headquartered in Tysons Corner, VA. Blue Clarity blends strategy and analytics with customer insights, design and creativity to help federal government and commercial clients. ‍#ExpeditionHacks – Blue Clarity's hackathon series—uses data and technology to inspire people to make a social impact.

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