On Monday, June 27, the Patent Office of the Republic of Latvia in cooperation with the National Customs Board of the State Revenue Service (SRS) and with the Shopping Centre Spice as the informational supporter launched the Fake Reality campaign under the motto Weigh up the Risks – Choose a Non-fake Surprise to encourage the public to think about the risks posed by purchasing counterfeit goods online, Agris Batalauskis, Director of the Patent Office, informs.
During the opening event of the Fake Reality campaign, representatives of the Patent Office and the SRS Customs Board shared recommendations on how consumers and businesses can protect themselves from infringements of intellectual property rights.
At the same time, the award ceremony for the finalists of the youth creative competition Fake Dimension was held as part of the Fake Reality opening event.
Infringements of intellectual property rights, namely counterfeiting of various goods, pose risks to consumer safety and health as well as create negative effects for businesses and national economies. That is why in June, when World Anti-Counterfeiting Day is marked, the topic of counterfeiting is the centre of particular attention.
According to a study published in 2022 by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the most commonly traded categories of dangerous counterfeits are perfumes and cosmetics, clothing, toys, car parts and medicines.
“Unlike manufacturers of original goods, counterfeit distributors do not comply with either safety or quality requirements, so both counterfeit clothing and perfumes, and in particular medicines, may contain illicit substances and pose a significant risk to health and life. The same applies to electrical appliances, which can be short-circuited, overheat and even explode, while car parts may wear out quickly and fail to perform their functions. That is why the Fake Reality campaign aims to educate about these risks,” Director of the Patent Office explains.
The study recently presented by EUIPO reveals that almost one in two young people aged 15 to 24 in Latvia intentionally bought a fake product online last year. True, 37% of respondents conclude that they lack knowledge about how to distinguish whether the product offered is counterfeit.
That is why the campaign emphasises the encouragement to weigh up the risks before buying goods of unknown origin. The Patent Office in cooperation with the SRS Customs Board has prepared a digital educational material, which is available if you follow this website: https://youtu.be/txt9xoyzTIk It contains information on the signs of counterfeiting. This and other practical recommendations are available on the initiative’s website viltotarealitate.lv.
At the same time, a EUIPO youth survey shows that respondents also think about what goods they buy. Evidence suggests that the reasons that discourage them from buying counterfeits include the fear of online money fraud and other cyber risks. At the same time, participants in the study point out that a better understanding of the negative effects of counterfeiting on the environment and society as a whole motivates them to think about what and where they are buying.
“Infringements of intellectual property rights also cause indirect damage to the economy. Consumers’ choice of cheap imported counterfeits leads to a reduced market share of local entrepreneurs, decreased turnover of funds and fewer opportunities to invest in the development of the company and the creation of new jobs, Batalauskis notes.
Iveta Priedīte, Member of the Board of the Shopping Centre Spice, agrees with that, noting that nowadays respectable entrepreneurs play an important role not only in the economy but also in preserving and improving the environment, which is also one of the priorities of the European Union and Latvia.
“As respectable entrepreneurs, it is important for us that the sellers in our shopping centre also offer our visitors a quality product with a known and verified origin, thus taking care not only of the health of consumers, but also of safety,” Iveta Priedīte, Member of the Board of the Shopping Centre Spice emphasizes.
Priedīte adds that practicing fair business also means a contribution to the economy. Namely, these are official jobs that take care of their employees by guaranteeing a safe and comfortable working environment, paying their salaries in good faith and taking care of the well-being of their employees. Of course, pursuing such a business also means implementing a lawful tax policy.
The Shopping Centre Spice is currently facing a change, one of the main goals of which is to improve the sustainability of the shopping centre, the environment and the availability of the products and brands it represents, thus also contributing to the development of a well thought-out shopping environment. These are just a few examples that illustrate honest business concern for the consumers,” Priedīte says.
Meanwhile, Sandra Kārkliņa-Ādmine, Deputy Director of the SRS Customs Board, emphasises that just as consumers should be proactive and vigilant when shopping online, companies must also protect their intellectual property.
“If an economic operator wishes to protect its intellectual property rights, such as trademarks, designs, patents, copyrights, etc., it may, in any Member State of the European Union, file a request with the customs authorities to take action, where it provides information on its goods and possible counterfeiting. Upon receipt of such an application, the customs authorities shall intensify control measures at the external border of the European Union to prevent the infringements of the intellectual property rights applied for,” Kārkliņa-Ādmine explains.
The Patent Office also shared suggestions on how businesses can take action to protect their intellectual property.
“First, to protect yourself from misunderstandings, before you start registering your trademark, you should make sure that someone else has not already registered such or a very similar trademark. Second, in order to take action against counterfeiters, we recommend that you register your industrial property. This means that you can protect your logo with the registration of the trademark, while protection of the appearance of the packaging is ensured by the design and the technology is protected by a patent,” Batalauskis says. Third, companies must systematically take care of the quality of their product. It must be so good that it is almost impossible to counterfeit the product. Fourth, it is recommended to be open to communication with customers. If customers are provided with comprehensive product descriptions, they will be able to identify counterfeits and report cases where they have purchased a counterfeited product. Fifth, it is important to thoroughly assess market developments on your own or using the services of professional patent attorneys, and take action against imitators without delay.
Detailed information on how to protect your intellectual property rights and how to protect yourself from counterfeits is available on the campaign website www.viltotarealitate.lv. Counterfeits can also be reported through this website.
Since a large number of counterfeits find the way to the consumer online, here are some recommendations to look out for:
read critically the product information on a website, on a social network, or in social network marketplaces.
pay attention to the quality of the website, such as typographical and grammatical errors, image quality, return policy and money back guarantee, the possibility to contact customer service, etc.;
“replica is as good as the original” – the product is and remains a counterfeit;
sellers of counterfeit goods tend to rush shoppers to buy a product, for example by offering sudden and short-term discounts on luxury goods. If you suspect the product is not genuine, check the product with the original manufacturer, for example, by comparing it on the website;
medicines, especially prescription drugs, may only be purchased from licenced pharmacies or their online stores.
feedback can also be searched on trustpilot.com