If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably... not always a duck

Hocus Pocus. That’s the title of a cover song on Iron Maiden’s European DVD single “Different world”. Unfortunately this legendary heavy-metal band with over 90 million albums sold can’t use magic when facing the difficulties of their music being pirated.  Allegedly, their tour in 2013 was planned by targeting certain cities in South America where their music was being downloaded the most, thus recognizing their fan-base and fighting the counterfeiters by playing live. Whether or not these rumours are true the underlying problem of music piracy unfortunately is.

Naturally, a live-concert experience, beer and a band t-shirt can’t be downloaded but each and every one of those three can be replicated and sold on; making the retail industry an easy target for criminals seeking to benefit from big brands’ hard earned reputation.  Recently, the district court of Stockholm charged three men for selling counterfeited clothes to the thousands. Car boot sale you may think? No. Putting our Hollywood influenced prejudice aside; the goods were not sold in some dodgy alley by a man in a hat and an oversized coat. They were sold in stores around the country with changing rooms and shop assistants. Was there a reason to doubt the authenticity of the product from a consumer perspective? Probably not. When uncovered, international representatives for Lacoste, Fred Perry, Polo, Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch and Burberry certified in interviews with the police that the clothes were, in fact, counterfeits.

Eventually the customer shopping in good faith is most likely to be met with a poor quality that does not match the standard that these brands are trying to uphold. What also has to be taken into context is the environment of where these products are manufactured and the chemicals used in the process. It’s a matter of safety for the consumer as well as the producer why a moral responsibility lie on everyone involved. After a thought or two, this preconceived bargain is in fact an expensive fight for human rights organisations.

In Sweden, a network of government agencies such as the Police, Board of Customs and Board of Patent and Registration are fighting counterfeiters through the exchange of information between the organisations. Just before Christmas this network published advice on how to avoid accidently buying counterfeit products during the holiday-period. However, in our digitalised world the problem is so widely spread it has to be fought online, professionally and by the minute.

Luckily there are measures to take in preventing counterfeiters from striking organisations. By implementing an effective brand protection strategy the first steps to fighting misuse of brands online are taken. NetNames’ clients benefit from the competence and the intelligent systems that together with a customized viewpoint make an all-round solution. By constantly monitoring our clients’ brands online we provide the data needed to grasp the problem and underlie forward planning. After targeting the illegal activists and highlighting how and where they operate these counterfeiters are taken down with a successful takedown rate of 90-95%. We pride ourselves with that number as it is a reflection of our good co-operation with the websites due to the multinational and multilingual strength of our team. With the problems targeted on a global level clients can put the regional action plans in place.

Referring to the case in Sweden; counterfeiters worldwide are making it hard for the consumer to tell the difference between a counterfeit product and the authentic one. At NetNames we see how our services affect the businesses of our clients on a daily basis. Activity makes a difference, Hocus Pocus does not. It is never too late to put an effective plan in place.

By Mariam Hussein.