adequately address the problem of counterfeiting. Third, corruption is still widespread, and most grievances are handled
at the local level. Those with the most
influence with local officials tend to get
more freedom to stretch the law.
Stacey: Most counterfeits we see originally come from China. Southeast Asia,
Brazil and India are also challenging
markets that can be prone to counterfeiting activity.
Tukulj: It is a lot more widespread, and it
includes a lot of companies — sometimes
even ERA members.
Are industry trade groups reacting
swiftly enough to this problem? What
more can be done by these groups to
alleviate the problem?
Maria Kennedy, Discovery
Communications, New York: ERA has an
extensive counterfeit program set up
where members can attempt to settle
their differences out of court. Both parties must agree to take their case to this
independent commission. If one of the
parties is found to be a counterfeiter, the
person must then forfeit his or her ERA
Luis Salaverria, Grupo TV Offer, San
Salvador, El Salvador: Organizations
that are not proactive in fighting unethical movements are slowly becoming
incubators of fraudulent members.
Quarless: Lobbying must continue,
industry groups should try to direct their
efforts directly to the Chinese government and China-based trade groups.
Knowles: Industry groups should form
task forces, working groups or committees to examine the impact of counterfeiting. One of the most effective
weapons against counterfeiting is information. By heightening awareness of the
problem of counterfeiting and increasing
access to vital information, businesses
can become better prepared to protect
against and respond to counterfeiting.
Bruckheim: ERA’s new Counterfeiting
Initiative, while a positive step, doesn’t
address counterfeiting from non-ERA
members, so it leaves out a majority of
counterfeiters. In Latin America, the
most effective response to counterfeiters
has come from the combined efforts of
global product owners and local distributors, usually in the form of decisive legal
letters to the counterfeiters, with copies
to the media outlets and retailers.
Medico: In the name of self-preservation,
many trade groups are doing whatever
they can to eliminate the problem. The
main issue is that due to the low profile
and low cost of operations, counterfeiters
can be open for business in a matter of
days after being shut down.
Stacey: Counterfeits need to be identified as early as possible. There are overseas law firms and investigation services
that monitor the Canton Fair, Yiwu City
and other markets and will help you
track down illegitimate manufacturers.
The problem is product specific so it’s
sometimes difficult for trade or industry
groups to address on a micro level.
However, on a macro level, there are lots
of opportunities to work with legislators
and regulators to share information,
streamline communication and enforcement, and tighten rules and procedures.
Are government regulators too lax on
this issue because of international
Bruckheim: Government regulators are
out of their element in dealing with
counterfeiting. We cannot rely on government regulators to judge these issues;
the response has to be more immediate
and originate from the product marketers
Quarless: I believe progress is being
made, but it’s a slow process. There are
many contentious issues that are debated with our Chinese trading partners on
a regular basis. Counterfeit goods are
only one of the many important issues
on the table.
Stacey: I don’t think governments are
too lax necessarily. They likely don’t
have adequate resources since there are
millions of different products crossing
the border each day.
Tukulj: This problem affects a lot bigger
industries than DRTV, as we all know. I
know that some governments are being
very aggressive in dealing with counterfeiting, but surely more can be done.
Have you or your business been directly affected by counterfeit products? If
so, how? And what did you do to fight
Bruckheim: Counterfeiting in Latin
America is an epidemic, and it is affecting all companies that do business in the
region, whether they are local distributors or global product owners. So far, the
most effective countermeasures have
involved cease-and-desist letters from
the owners and marketers sent to the
counterfeiters, media outlets — networks, magazines, newspapers, Web sites
where counterfeiters have links, etc. —
Quarless: We face this problem on a
weekly basis. Practically every successful
product we have ever manufactured has
been copied with no regard for patents,
trademarks or copyrights. Our primary
defense for knock-offs is speed to market. Working with our DRTV clients, we
get the product on TV and into the
major retail accounts before counterfeits
can even be made. We also actively seek
out those who infringe and send warning
letters to notify them that legal action
Stacey: We have encountered problems
with some specific products. In such
cases, we immediately send a sample of
the suspect product to the supplier for
further review. At that point, we either
received an all-clear and identify it as
gray-market goods. In another case, we
helped our supplier track down the
source of the product to get it off the