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by Melissa Tarsitano, OpSec Security

Every year on April 26, we celebrate World Intellectual Property Day. This year’s theme, “Innovation: Improving Lives,” reflects the idea that anti-counterfeiting solutions are at the forefront of health and safety advancements. Counterfeiting not only raises concerns over global health, but also has serious economic consequences.

In the Internet Age, purchasing counterfeit goods is made easier than ever with the rise of e-commerce stores. Deceitful domains, which continue to be a staple for counterfeit networks, have had a detrimental impact on consumer culture. Many rogue websites offer a misconception of legitimacy leading consumers to believe they are purchasing the “real thing” at a discounted cost. Furthermore, a number of these sites, the majority based in China, accept payment in US Dollars and Euros and appear identical to genuine web shops. Despite these deceptive tactics and the difficulty in trending seller patterns, many brands have successfully fought against large networks of online sellers in recent months.

Gucci America Inc. was recently awarded a 9 million dollar judgement in a case involving 89 counterfeit websites. Each website was ordered to pay $100,000 in damages and to immediately transfer all domain names to Gucci. Earlier in 2017, luxury outerwear brand Moose Knuckles was awarded a 52 million dollar judgment against a network of Chinese websites operated by 26 defendants. Similar to the Gucci America case, these defendants were found guilty of cyber-squatting and selling counterfeit goods, and all domain names were disabled and transferred to Moose Knuckles. While many of these judgements result in monetary awards, the anonymity of the registrants often makes it virtually impossible to locate the defendants. Consequently, the real reward is the seizure and transfer of the domain names.

Gucci and Moose Knuckles set positive precedent for other Luxury brands to continue to combat counterfeit online networks. Earlier this month, Christian Dior filed suit against a network hosting upwards of 400 counterfeit domains, using famous Dior trademarks to sell knock off goods.

Counterfeiting is not an isolated problem, making it difficult to incorporate enforcement standards that curb this issue as a whole, while also finding a continental solution that will pave the way towards a global solution. Brands that continue to combat counterfeiters are in turn combatting networks that fund terrorism and sweatshops, both of which pose a direct threat to human health and safety.