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World Anti Counterfeiting Day… Staggering Costs Fueled by the Web

Established in 1998 by the Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group (GACG), "World Anti Counterfeiting Day" is held annually in June to raise awareness of the international impacts of counterfeiting and piracy. According to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the cost of counterfeiting is a $600 billion a year problem. MarkMonitor estimates the cost of online counterfeit trade at $200 billion annually. It's now more important than ever to realize the Web fuels the problem and it's easier than ever for counterfeiters to capitalize on the immediacy, global reach and anonymity of the Internet. But considering the complexity and magnitude of today's counterfeiting crisis, coupled with limited resources, where do brands begin?

Brand owners first must recognize that as long as there is demand, there will be a supply of fake goods. However, counterfeiting is not just limited to a supply issue — which is a key difference when looking at the online vs. physical world. Brand owners can diminish counterfeit sales by stopping the distribution of these goods as well as stopping the promotional activities that aid in the online distribution. In fact, many of today's leading brands are evolving their online brand protection strategy to embrace this multi-pronged approach by not only choking off the sources of supply, but also monitoring promotional channels — including search engines, social media and email — to identify and shut down fake goods online.

The illicit trade of counterfeit products is rampant and no industry is immune. Counterfeits penetrate all industries from pharmaceuticals to footwear, apparel, handbags, automotive parts and DVDs to everyday items like shampoo, spirits and cigarettes. World Anti Counterfeiting Day reminds us that the consequences of counterfeiting, such as revenue loss and consumer risk, are anything but minor. I commend the GACG for seizing this opportunity to create awareness of the threats to consumers and to society posed by the trade in fakes.

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