What began in 2008 as a smoldering ember has exploded into a conflagration of Internet counterfeiting that threatens the U.S. economy and every company in the outdoor, fitness and wintersports industries, according to Outdoor Industry Association.
SNEWS® first addressed the mounting problems with Internet counterfeiting in the June 16, 2010, story, “Vibram FiveFingers counterfeiters, fake websites popping up faster than in Whac-A-Mole,” -- click here to read.
In a letter that is being sent to members of Congress on Wed., Feb. 16 (in time for Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on this matter), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said:
Rogue websites are part of a network of counterfeiting and piracy that a recent study found cost 2.5 million jobs in the G20 economies. Many of these sites pose as legitimate businesses, luring consumers with sophisticated and well-designed websites. But, in reality, the counterfeit and pirated products these sites distribute are often of poor quality, harmful, and promote fraud. Further, consumers put themselves at risk of identity theft and malicious computer viruses by visiting these sites. Enacting legislation to address rogue websites would be a major step to make the Internet safer and protect consumers from the dangers of buying in the online marketplace.
Rampant online counterfeiting and piracy presents a clear and present threat that we must do more to address. A recent study examined about 100 rogue websites and found that these sites attracted more than 53 billion visits per year. That averages about 9 visits for every man, woman, and child on Earth. It is not surprising that global sales of counterfeit goods via the Internet from illegitimate retailers reached $135 billion in 2010. What’s more, as a consequence of global and U.S.-based piracy of copyright products, the U.S. economy lost $58.0 billion in total output in 2007.
While OIA is seeking company names to add to the letter (contact OIA by noon on Mon., Feb. 14), Alex Boian, director of trade policy for OIA, told SNEWS that the battle is just beginning. OIA is currently forming an online counterfeit task force to help monitor efforts to combat online counterfeiting and facilitate communication among industry companies and with other groups/associations working on the issue.
To find out more about the Outdoor Industry Association task force on online counterfeiting, contact Boian at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-327-3509.