Brand owners and intermediaries must work with their business partners, particularly online retailers, to stop the infiltration of fake goods into the global supply chain, an anti-counterfeiting conference has heard.
Delegates at the annual spring conference of the International Anticounterfeiting Coalition (IACC) in Orlando, US, were told to increase co-operation and collaboration to keep criminal networks at bay.
Jeffrey Hardy, director of Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP), warned that brand owners could not afford to wait for governments to fix the problem.
"While advocacy with governments will continue to be an important part of the solution, we must act quickly to get our own house in order," Hardy said.
Speakers including Max Baucus, US Ambassador to China, and Mike Evans, president of Alibaba, called for brand owners and intermediaries to work together.
It is vital to include online intermediaries which sell to consumers over the internet in the process, as they are becoming more important, they said.
A new BASCAP paper, Best Practices for Removing Fakes from Online Platforms, gives specific steps to stop fakes entering the supply chain, including the adoption of automated risk management tools.
"The internet has become particularly vulnerable to counterfeiters and pirates, with a flood of fake goods being sold online," Hardy said. "Legitimate online platforms - from e-commerce websites to social networks - are being exploited to sell counterfeits and enable illegal downloads of copyrighted material.
“Counterfeits have crept into legitimate online platforms and it's nearly impossible for shoppers to determine what's real and what's fake.
"Establishing and enforcing clear contract terms, knowing who is trading on their platform, identifying and guarding against high-risk behaviour patterns, and adopting automated risk management tools are all tried-and-true business practices that are already available to online platforms today."
A recent report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) described how counterfeiting and piracy affect almost every product and service category, and said they robbed the legitimate economy of jobs and growth potential.
The OECD said trade in counterfeit goods has grown from US$250bn annually in 2008 to more than US$461bn in 2013 and now represents more than 2.5 per cent of all world trade, including 5 per cent of all imports into the EU.