Consumers love counterfeits. What went wrong?

At Awapatent we are dedicated people: to our clients and to IP, Intellectual Property. This dedication means that we not only pride ourselves on giving the best advice and see ourselves as our clients’ partners, but being experienced in tailoring IP-strategies for our clients we regularly encounter the question on how to stem the tide of counterfeits, where to set the bar and how to best get value for money.

We also have an opinion on IP. IP legislation is not static. It evolves and – in an ideal world – should mirror the values of society. As advisors we also voice our opinions and comments to the debate.  

In the wake of this it seems that a debate has indeed stirred something in – or at least put focus on – the area of private “holiday-imports” of counterfeits: the fake watch / sun glasses / clothes / bags / shoes from the local market on your holiday.

For some years now many DVD movies have commenced with a “scare-off trailer” against copying like “You wouldn’t steal a car…?” It is doubtful that these scare tactics have much – if any – effect. Various copy prone businesses, for example the music business, have tried this unsuccessfully over the last decades. As the recent article in Danish national newspaper Berlingske shows, you cannot hope to change the pattern if people do not themselves see the value in the brand or product – and indeed are aware of the organized crime or drug dealing business that often is behind counterfeit products.

Here’s a thought: think long term. Do not scare off your potential costumers but focus on value and perhaps ethics. Your products can stand for themselves but do you remember this aspect in the implied value that should surround the product?  Have you incorporated this in your IP-strategy? If you cast a look at the music industry it has certainly not been successful in stopping counterfeits or illegal downloads. This in spite of vast sums spent on this. So you should also look at your competitors if they are using scare tactics: does it work, do you get value for your money?

Thorbjørn Swanstrøm, Attorney at Law

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