What are they key themes of this year’s Europol IP Crime Conference?
The conference will focus on innovative strategies, law enforcement practices and emerging trends in anti-counterfeiting. An international panel of leaders operating on the frontlines of law enforcement, private industry and academia will share best practices and emerging trends, and attendees will hear about specific case studies from countries such as China, Denmark, and Belgium.
The International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC) is excited to partner with Europol on this conference and we really want to spread a sense of collaboration. We believe in leveraging the resources, assets and expertise of other government agencies, non-governmental organisations and intermediaries to take a holistic approach, because we need wrap our arms around the counterfeiting problem.
Having Europol at the table has been fantastic and having the agency as a co-host for this conference signifies the level of collaboration that can be achieved. What we’re doing is putting the pieces of the puzzle together. I’ve travelled around the world signing agreements so that we can have the tools in place for a kind of self-help programme.
By working with intermediaries such as credit card companies and platform providers such as Alibaba Group, we can get merchant accounts shut down, prevent shipments of counterfeit goods from reaching their destinations, and connect the dots so that we can build cases against criminal networks and give law enforcement the basis for criminal investigations.
What will you focus on in your keynote address?
My keynote will focus largely on the theme of innovation. Counterfeiters are constantly evolving the way they operate, and we should too if we are to properly enforce the rights of brands around the world. The best innovation comes when multiple people and partners are involved. You never know where the next idea is going to come from, so we want as many people as possible to take part in that conversation.
The IACC believes this is the best way to develop innovative solutions to the counterfeiting problem. During my keynote, I’ll be providing examples of how effective voluntary collaboration between industries and organisations has produced some of the most innovative initiatives in anti-counterfeiting.
Before, the ideal scenario would be for Google to just delist anything counterfeit-related, but now—even in that ideal world—Facebook, Instagram and all these other means exist to drive customers to counterfeit websites. The preferred method is always voluntary cooperation, but if that doesn’t work, we work to convince politicians to strengthen laws and put pressure on other countries through international relationships. I have testified before the House judiciary committee on several occasions to do just that. We focus on global engagement, education and enforcement.
How important are partnerships with enforcement agencies and companies?
Voluntary partnerships are an integral part of the solution to the counterfeiting problem. The IACC has long believed in the power of partnerships, and our collaboration with Europol and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has been integral in sharing valuable information in anti-counterfeiting, training law enforcement officials from around the world, and bringing brands and other groups together to collaborate.
Our partnership with Europol and UL goes beyond the Europol IP Crime Conference. Currently, I sit on Europol’s IP Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC3) stakeholder advisory group as a rights holder representative. In this role, the IACC can lend its support and share its global programmes, expertise and the voice of its members with the IPC3.
We partner with UL and hold conferences around the world to train law enforcement in brand protection. In addition to the Europol IP Crime Conference, we will be joining forces for the second Latin America Regional Brand Protection Summit next year. Our first summit was held in Miami last year. It attracted more than 200 attendees.
This unique event presented unparalleled and valuable networking opportunities for brands, other industry representatives and government officials from the US, Europe, and more than 15 Latin American and Caribbean countries.
Collectively, these efforts will advance brand owner interests and protection around the world.
We have had an exciting and productive year that reinforces the IACC’s strategy of voluntary collaboration:
The MarketSafe Expansion Program was launched in April, and we had 100-plus brands apply to participate. These brands ranged from small- and medium-sized entities to global brands from more than 30 countries. This programme takes down an average of 13,000-plus counterfeit listings per month. We will begin accepting applications for participation in the programme’s second year in November 2017<
The IACC RogueBlock programme continues to be a success. Nearly 6,000 illicit merchant accounts have been terminated, and more than 200,000 websites affected. I also testified before the Italian parliamentary counterfeiting committee, which was interested in hearing about RogueBlock’s impact on fighting online counterfeiting. Through our partnership with the City of London Police, the Police IP Crime Unit (PIPCU) collaboration expands RogueBlock’s impact on counterfeiters by going after the websites themselves. As part of its partnership, PIPCU has agreed to consider each website submission from RogueBlock that falls within its jurisdiction, such as .uk domain names
The IACC Annual Spring Conference was attended by 400-plus people from 40 countries
We held law enforcement training in Argentina and Colombia, as well as Los Angeles, New Jersey and Maryland in the US. Upcoming events will take place in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, North Carolina, Los Angeles and San Francisco
We will co-host the Interpol 11th Annual International Law Enforcement IP Crime Conference in August in New York City
Since you joined the IACC, how far has the coalition come alongside the ever-changing counterfeit landscape? Has technology had an impact?
I think we’ve come a tremendous way. When I started we had three employees, now we have 15. We were known as the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition, but when I became president, a lot of criticism was that we weren’t very international, that we were very US-centric.
But now, I’ve been all over the world and quite frankly, I’m outside of the US a lot more than I’m in the US. I’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of members.
When I started we had around 120, now we have more than 250 members. We’re where the rubber meets the road—we get out there and are very operational in what we do.
I’ve been around a long time. I was a police chief and had a career in law enforcement. I was in the music industry, chasing cassettes, then CDs came out. I’ve been in law enforcement for a long time. Since then, the technology has just expanded so much.
We’re now watching 3D printing, crypto-currencies and other technologies that could be be a huge threat. Bitcoin, for example, can have some effect on the IACC RogueBlock programme. It’s really history repeating itself.
It’s a blessing and a curse. It’s tough to keep ahead, but what I’ve seen is that communication is the key.