The war against “fakes” or counterfeit merchandise is getting real and now involves Google.
We already blogged about it. On our June 26th piece, we explained how Amazon is blocking third-party counterfeits or fake products from its platform. This action triggered by the passage of a new bill at the US House of Representatives.
This bill is not the law of the land yet but the e-commerce giant is preempting what will be mandatory by law for its serious legal implications.
What are counterfeit products?
Counterfeit products (also known as fakes, knockoffs, pirates), are merchandise often of inferior quality, made or sold under another’s brand name without the brand owner’s authorization or knowledge. It may also infringe on patents and copyrights, depending on the product.
It is calculated that this form of intellectual property theft totals $1.7 trillion in damages per year, which is more profitable than drugs and human trafficking.
What is Google doing to fight counterfeit merchandise?
Now, Google is also taking action against counterfeit merchandise, modifying the deep inner workings of their organic searches manually to eliminate navigation to sites that sell counterfeit merchandise.
The reason is simple. Counterfeits infringe intellectual property rights such as trademarks, copyrights, and patents and it is illegal.
Google had already taken action against counterfeits or knockoffs in a more evident manner. It had recently updated their legal complaint system to report websites which sell counterfeits and has committed to removing those pages. In addition, Google has long prohibited ads of these knockoffs.
However, it has long resisted the changing of their organic searches without a court order.
What is the US Government doing to crack down on counterfeit merchandise?
These actions are not a coincidence. The USA government has become increasingly dedicated to crack-down on counterfeits products whether it is something “superfluous” such as a fake label purse or something with health and safety implications such as pharmaceuticals and automotive parts. The Safe Shop Act targets the counterfeits which could implicate the safety and well-being of the consumers.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has increased its actions against imported counterfeits (mainly from China) escalating the seizure of counterfeit merchandise every year.
And this is just the beginning. Expect more aggressive actions against counterfeits, fakes, and knockoffs. The government certainly is putting more aggressive resources into the game and the internet giants are acting before the laws become stricter.
Marcos E. Garciaacota is a business and trademark attorney. He serves a wide array of businesses and individuals in the USA and globally, helping his clients in the creation and preservation of wealth.
Call us for a consultation at (480) 324-6378.