Counterfeit designer goods

Counterfeit goods clampdown moves to social media

Image credit: Dreamstime

A government-backed programme is set to tackle the trade in counterfeit and other illegal goods on social media groups.

The Real Deal Online programme aims to raise awareness of the issue among the administrators of ‘buy-and-sell’ groups on social media platforms.

The initiative is an extension of the ‘Real Deal’ programme, which is already in place in physical trading arenas such as car boot sales. The next step in the initiative will establish a process for trading standards officers to contact social media group administrators and offer assistance with running counterfeit-free groups and presents a code of practice for social media group administrators.

The Real Deal Online Code of Practice forbids the sale of counterfeit and other illegal goods and requires administrators to make group members aware of its illegality; to act on information from rightsholders calling out the sale of illegal goods; to notify trading standards if they believe illegal goods are being sold in the group, and to ban these sellers from the group.

Groups who sign up to the Code of Pratice may display a ‘Real Deal’ logo, which indicates that it is a counterfeit-free shopping zone.

Mike Andrews, national co-ordinator of the National Trading Standards eCrime Team said that most buy-and-sell group members would be “horrified to think that they may, unwittingly, be funding organised crime”, and that the Real Deal logo would be a reassurance for these members.

“It also enables the administrator of a group to send a strong ‘keep out’ message to any counterfeiting con-men who may try to infiltrate the group and who have no scruples about ripping off consumers, selling unsafe products or damaging local businesses,” he commented.

The Real Deal Online programme was developed by the National Markets Group for IP Protection and the National Trading Standards eCrime Team and will be rolled out at local level by Trading Standards Services.

 “The UK is rich with talented creators and innovators and we must protect their intellectual property rights both online and offline. Social media can be a force for good, making it easier for users to buy and sell goods. However, with this can come an increase of counterfeit goods and other illegal products,” said Sam Gyimah, who is Minister for Intellectual Property in addition to being Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation.

“This is why I welcome this initiative that brings together industry, Trading Standards and local government to help protect legitimate businesses and allow rightsholders to reap the benefits of their own creations.”

In a pre-launch trial of the programme, seven buy-and-sell social media groups with a total of more than 41,000 members signed up to the code of practice and are already displaying the Real Deal logo.

“I’m happy there is a scheme for these online groups. We, as buyers, got fed-up of seeing counterfeit goods strewn all over Facebook and set up our own groups,” said Scott Lambert, administrator of a Harrogate-based buy-and-sell group with approximately 6,000 members.

“We are happy to work with Trading Standards on this trial and hopefully help towards reducing the amount of poor quality fakes, dangerous fakes and the like.”

Last year, New York University researchers presented machine learning tools which analyse photographs in detail to identify counterfeit goods with 98 per cent accuracy.

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