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Intellectual property breaches pose a critical threat to businesses and consumers everywhere.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) puts the value of imported fake goods worldwide based on 2016 customs seizure data at USD 509 billion, up from USD 461 billion in 2013 (2.5% of world trade). For the European Union, counterfeit trade represented 6.8% of imports from non-EU countries, up from 5% in 2013, and OECD expects the market to keep growing. In addition to duping consumers, counterfeit goods harm the reputation of brand holders, damage local markets, and put jobs at risk in legitimate economic sectors.  Counterfeiting also deters innovation.

In the past, counterfeit goods were often packed into large shipping containers that arrived at ports of entry. Today, one of the fastest growing trends is using online platforms as a route to market for fake products with shipments going directly to the buyer, delivered by mail or express courier consignments directly to the doorstep.

According to the OECD, in 2014-16, postal packages were the most common means of shipping counterfeit and pirated goods. Sea transport made up just 10% of total counterfeit seizures, compared to 57% coming from postal shipments and 12% from express couriers.

In the imaging consumables industry, two organisations working to combat counterfeit goods are The Imaging Consumables Coalition of Europe, Middle East and Africa (ICCE) and in the United States, the Imaging Supplies Coalition (ISC).  The organisations are independent, with their own areas of interest and priorities, but they share a common goal.

Andrew Gardner is the Worldwide Brand Protection Manager for Lexmark, which is a member of both organisations: “Although ICCE and ISC have different remits and geographical responsibilities through their founding charters, they share a common fight against counterfeiting and its effect on their members and channel partners as well as the consumer.  Both groups have developed comprehensive strategies for combating the trade of counterfeit products via the internet. 

Collaborating to tackling cyber counterfeiting

Both organisations work closely with enforcement agencies such as customs, police and trading standards authorities to educate and share information. ICCE and ISC members also run education and training events for frontline officials in EMEA and the US. These valuable events serve to keep everyone up to date about the latest industry trends and to train them in the latest methods of differentiating between fake and genuine goods.

Lexmark, a member of both the ISC and ICCE, is also a signatory to the EU Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the sale of counterfeit goods via the internet.

Andrew explained: “The MOU establishes a code of practice to fight the sale of counterfeit goods over the internet and to enhance collaboration among its signatories, so that they can effectively respond to this constant threat. The MOU covers leading e-commerce platforms as well as major brands in the fast-moving fields of consumer packaged goods, consumer electronics, fashion, luxury goods, sports goods, film, software, games and toys, all operating at both the global and regional levels.”