Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Trademark Attorneys Spring Conference in London, Fraser Morrison, who handles brand protection at Edrington Distillers, suggested that criminals are focusing more on copycat products.
“Today, I’m more concerned by people who make exact replicas,” he said. “Areas like perfume and handbags are dominated by criminals. People know that lookalikes aren’t the real thing, which is why criminals are moving into copycat counterfeits.”
Counterfeiting and piracy are problems that are likely to get worse. According to an International Trademark Association-backed report, the negative impacts of counterfeiting and piracy could drain $4.2 trillion from the global economy and put 5.4 million legitimate jobs at risk by 2022.
Morrison went on to add that while advancements in technology are an opportunity for brands to overcome the challenges of scale, “they’re also an opportunity for criminals”.
In another session, Simon Baggs, head of intellectual property at Wiggins and managing director of brand protection specialist Incopro, argued that technology can go a long way to dealing with the volume problem.
Incopro, for example, has identified up 2,500 websites selling fake Rolex watches in a single morning, according to Baggs.
“We are looking to see if there are new ways of blocking and dealing with these kinds of websites,” he said. “There needs to be clear remedies for this level of infringement.”