There is no question that counterfeiting is negatively impacting profits, consumer safety, and business reputations in virtually every industry worldwide. Several market factors have fueled this growth. The Internet, for all the benefits it has provided in terms of information sharing and commerce, has been a key turning point in the growth of counterfeiting. It is estimated that a full 25 percent of global Internet commerce is counterfeit. Another factor influencing the rapid spread of counterfeiting is simply the growth in consumption of goods worldwide. As economies develop, and new markets are exposed to inexpensive consumer goods, the sheer number of items purchased every day has grown exponentially.
Even though the threat from counterfeiters is very obvious, companies are often stumped at how to implement an effective program to counteract counterfeiting, relying on piecemeal (and often inefficient) enforcement methods. The first step in implementing a successful anti-counterfeiting program is to assess the impact counterfeiting is having on your business. This can be done in a number of ways and the most effective campaigns often integrate several analysis tools to arrive at a complete understanding of the problem. Analysis methods include tracking electronic traffic to determine both the source of and retail outlets for counterfeiters, and to gauge the percentage of sites selling authentic products versus those that are fake. To that end, anti-counterfeiting counsel usually work with investigators who utilize proprietary software solutions to regularly monitor search engines, online marketplaces, auction websites, B2B websites and social media sites for counterfeit products. Businesses can also research the source and volume of any counterfeit products or parts returned for service, canvass trade shows for look-alike (but perhaps not branded) products, and evaluate sales data to determine whether any regions have experienced unexpected slowdowns in sales — which could mean that a counterfeiter has infiltrated the supply chain.