Katherine A. Eppley, Esq., University of Akron School of Law
Today, trade and consumer protection organizations around the world are celebrating International Anti-Counterfeiting Day as a way to bring awareness to this costly and dangerous practice. For anyone unfamiliar with counterfeiting, a product is counterfeit when it is a fraudulent imitation of a branded product. Imagine a pair of shoes printed with the Nike swoosh that were not actually manufactured or sponsored by Nike. That Nike swoosh, a well-known trademark owned by Nike, is used by consumers to ensure that they are buying shoes of a certain quality and good will (that Nike has spent loads of time and resources creating and upholding). It is also important to be aware of counterfeit products that have potentially severe consequences when brought into the hands of consumers, such as counterfeit pharmaceuticals and automobile parts.
The primary reason we have trademark protection is to identify the source of goods or services to prevent consumer confusion. This allows consumers to understand where their purchases are coming from and the level of quality associated with that brand before they buy. Because a trademark also represents the reputation of a company that provides those goods or services, consumers often rely on trademarks in making their purchasing decisions. Trademark law serves the owner of the trademark by allowing them protect the good well they created. Trademark owners can enforce their trademark rights to prevent others from using the same/similar mark in relation to the same/similar goods or services.
Check out some facts on counterfeiting, provided by the International Trademark Law Association’s UnReal Campaign:
The Unreal Campaign is a public awareness initiative designed by the International Trademark Law Association to educate teenagers about the importance of trademarks, intellectual property, and the dangers of counterfeit products. Check out their recently updated video blog here.