Social counterfeiting: Counterfeiters have discovered social media channels and messenger services. Facebook, Whatsapp and co. are being used as sales channels for counterfeit & grey-market goods.
Author: Volker Hahn, International Marketing Director at tesa scribos
For years, online trade in counterfeit and grey-market goods via platforms like eBay and Alibaba has been booming. But brand owners and retailers are increasingly fighting back, deleting counterfeiter accounts. In the hunt for alternatives, counterfeiters have found social media channels and messenger services such as Facebook, WeChat, Whatsapp and Yupoo. These digital channels are being misappropriated and used to peddle counterfeit products — social counterfeiting is on the rise.
Consumers lured in with genuine images and low prices
Counterfeiters tempt buyers with attractive product images and irresistibly low prices on their profiles – which are usually anonymous. Items include fake luxury goods, trainers, medicines, brand-name watches, consumer electronics and much more.
Initial contact with potential buyers is usually via private messaging on the platforms. When an item is purchased, payment is made using external paid payment services, not the channels themselves.
Brand owners should of course work with authorities, sales platforms and potentially also with investigative services to carry out test purchases. The fact that online contact between counterfeiters and buyers is anonymous makes their work much harder, however. Brand owners should therefore take extra measures to fight infringement of their trademark rights as a result of the trade in counterfeits on social media platforms and to protect consumers. Informing and deterring consumers is crucial to success.
Tips for preventing the social media counterfeiting trade:
Such measures effectively make it difficult for counterfeiters to trade covertly and make efficient use of market players as allies in the fight against consumer deception.
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World Trademark Review blog entry “Evolution of the fakers”
Article in the Sydney Morning Herald on the sale of counterfeit luxury goods on social media
Securing Industry: "Social media increasingly used to sell counterfeits"
More on counterfeit protection for original products