If you’re going to be a product entrepreneur, sooner or later you will have to deal with counterfeit products. It doesn’t matter if you’re a tiny one item inventor or NIKE, it happens to everyone.
The first time I heard about a counterfeiter I looked up “wrist water bottle” on the search engines and found a picture of me wearing my own product on a Chinese website. Since it had a phone number I called them up. When they were trying to sell me my own product they spoke perfect English, until I told them they were selling a counterfeit product and I owned the intellectual property. Suddenly, “no English”.
When I found counterfeiters selling my product on ebay I called up the company to let them know. As a company that deals with multiple people selling everything from used bikes to used chewing gum thrown away by Brittany Spears, they have to keep a handle on counterfeits.
eBay, in it’s attempt to curb counterfeiting has launched the VeRO policy or Verified Rights Owner Program. Intellectual property rights owners can create an About Me page. This is to let sellers know that you are the owner of the IP. You can also submit a claim when you find a seller who is selling a counterfeit version of your product. Odds are they won’t know the product is a counterfeit.
It’s usually not the little sellers or unsuspecting buyers, we, as patent and trademark owners, are after. It’s the counterfeit factories and large distribution companies who sell to these mom and pop retailers and wholesalers. Many of them know they are selling counterfeit products and they don’t care.
In the end, it’s the people who buy them for resale on sites like eBay who will end up getting burned when the products have to be removed from the Internet. And of course, the inventors of the products, who have put years and all their money into the development of a product, just to have it stolen.
So, if you’re going to be selling on eBay, or any other site for that matter, always do your homework to make sure what you’re buying isn’t a counterfeit product. If you’re buying to sell on eBay, check the About Me pages first before you invest your money in a large quantity of products that you may get stuck with. If you’re a rights holder inform them of anyone selling a counterfeit product and they will remove it from the seller’s account.
Counterfeiting is a multi-billion dollar industry that hurts jobs, business owners, and the consumer.