Engaging Consumers in the Fight
It's a courageous way to tackle counterfeits ... empower the consumer. We're beginning to see more public acknowledgment of the problem (for example recent Glaxo ads in press, Nokia's user-authenticable cell phone battery), and now the Italian government has launched a counterfeit 'whistle-blower' hot-line - for customers or retailers to call in suspected fakes.
This actually makes a lot of sense. Consumers care about brand integrity and safety for many products - and want to be able to either check the authenticity of a product, or offer a sort of 'neighborhood watch' on the marketplace. Vendors such as HP, Kingston, and Motorola say they usually learn about counterfeiting problems as a result of consumer complaints.
Counterfeits flourish in dark corners - a bright light on the problem - and greater consumer awareness - will benefit legitimate manufacturers in the long run. In China, ironically, the QBPC is very active in educating consumers about fakes. In the US, on the other hand, the "No Trade in Fakes", STOP initiative, and other such programs sponsored by industry groups are aimed more at legal recourse and manufacturer education of IPR, than consumer empowerment.