USA: Multi-million dollar counterfeiting ring dismantled
US authorities have taken action against a counterfeiting network that presumably produced and traded in fake footwear and electronics worth more than 130 million US dollars (around 110 million euros). According to authorities, four suspects were arrested in August and charged in the federal court in Brooklyn for their role in an international counterfeiting ring. To manufacture the counterfeits, the suspects allegedly imported generic goods from China into the US through the Port of New York and New Jersey, from October 2019 to July 2021. Subsequently, they are said to have applied trademarks and other brand identifiers onto the goods at workshops e.g. located in the Queens and Long Island boroughs of New York, for example those of the brands Ugg Boots, Nike, Timberland, and Beats. “In addition to their detrimental effect to our economy, counterfeiting networks such as this one poses a threat to our national security and public safety”, said Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York. Three additional suspects remain at large.
In a raid in the area of India’s capital Delhi, law enforcement officials seized more than 1,300 kilograms of counterfeit detergents, 8,400 fake sachets of shampoo, 600 liters of fake detergents, as well as dozens of counterfeit soaps and face creams. Officials also confiscated more than 5,000 unused packaging items. „All the products were sold with brand names written on them. However, these were cheap quality chemicals and products”, says the police according to media reports. Previously, several manufacturers of fast-moving consumer goods (FCMG) had informed the authorities about counterfeits, which e.g. imitated products of the corporations Procter & Gamble and Unilever. The presumed producer of the counterfeits claimed to have gone into the production of fakes due to money worries, reported Indian media.
Amazon sues counterfeiters jointly with GoPro, Asmodee
In the USA, the Internet giant Amazon is taking legal action together with brand manufacturers against traders of counterfeits on Amazon’s online platforms. Together with the French game manufacturer Asmodee, the US company is suing two people who allegedly tried to sell counterfeits of the well-known card game brand Dixit. The defendants are said to have used Asmodee’s trademark without permission and must now answer to the US District Court for the Western District of Washington. For another lawsuit, Amazon is also cooperating with the American camera manufacturer GoPro. The defendants in this case are seven people of Chinese nationality and several companies; they allegedly counterfeited GoPro-branded accessories that differed from the originals only in details; ten further suspects are also alleged to have been involved in the sale of the counterfeit products. The case in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington focuses on third-party retailers operating on Amazon’s marketplace. The current lawsuit was already filed back in April; but it was only published now, as in parallel investigations are being conducted against retailers in China.
The well-known online gaming platform Roblox wants to patent a process in the USA to identify counterfeits within virtual game environments and thus to deter counterfeiters. Roblox is a widely used platform for computer games, which allows users to create their own games and to play them together with other users. On Roblox, users can also buy virtual products via in-game purchases, e.g. cosmetic accessories for game characters. The resulting reality-based market apparently also attracts fraudsters selling fakes, according to media reports. As detailed in the patent application, Roblox could now detect such imitations using an algorithm and multiple two-dimensional views of three-dimensional virtual objects and by comparing with an original; this should deter counterfeiters, the patent application specifies. “A game platform that prevents the upload of counterfeit virtual objects can effectively deter counterfeit object creators.”