Counterfeit and the Real Deal: The Pitfalls of Fraudulent Online Marketing

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Unfortunately the wave of online selling has encouraged lots of counterfeit goods to be marketed as the real item. There have been instances in China where entire electronics stores were fake! In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission regulates this issue. A skilled trademark lawyer Peoria IL relies on may have to compare some items side by side and determine the often very subtle differences between the true item and the copy. Here are some things to look for:

  1. Packaging- often counterfeit goods have substandard or unmarked wrapping. Be suspicious of goods delivered in plain packages instead of ones with usual colors and logo design on it. One exception to this is if a good is marked as being resold by a consumer. In that case it may appear like new but was likely taken out of the original packaging by the original owner.
  2. Logos- Many times the Trademarked Logo looks odd or misshapen.
  3. Cheap Quality- Amazon has had complaints of high-quality brands such as Gillette, North Face, and Converse being copied on their site. Often consumers become aware when the merchandise is sub-par, especially when they try to purchase a premium brand
  4. Return Address- From a P.O. box or China address

It’s common that the quality of counterfeit goods is inferior to the actual product. For example, when buying a belt instead of it looking like it’s made from leather it is clearly made from a synthetic fiber. Or a high-end watch that is not a sport-model has a plastic band instead of a metal one. This is easy to discover when comparing the two side to side. This is why it’s important to be weary of online retailers because it will be impossible to know if your item is genuine or not. The safest bet is to order the product directly from the company that produces it. Also avoid street vendors with discount deals as they are often selling knock-offs of the original product.

If you chose to use an online retailer, select one that stands by its quality and the authenticity of its products and will accept without hassles returns of substandard goods. When buying a collectible or sports team good, look for tags that authenticate the item as being from branch of the sport, such as the National Football League. For example, real NHL jerseys are made by Reebok and have the NHL logo on the tag in addition to the logo of the team represented. When thieves steal the designs and logos of goods and make profits selling cheap knock-offs we all suffer. It will require government crack-downs as well as consumer outcry for this trend to reverse. In the meantime, be vigilant for the level of quality when you are buying premium brands. It is wise until online retailers are better at monitoring for this key issue, to consider buying in person for awhile.

Konrad Sherinian

Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Offices of Konrad Sherinian for their insight into the pitfalls of fraudulent online marketing.