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INTA Calls on Consumers to Shop Carefully Online this Holiday Season

11-Dec-2013 | Source : AG-IP News | Visits : 6451
NEW YORK, NY - The International Trademark Association (INTA) is asking consumers to watch out for counterfeit goods when shopping online this holiday season, a press release by the Association stated.

Data from recent shopping events indicate a strong trend of shoppers choosing to make their purchases online. On Singles-Day—which takes place in China every November 11th (symbolized by the four lonely 1s of 11/11)—single men and women console themselves with shopping, transforming the day into the country’s biggest shopping event of the year. This year Alibaba, China’s biggest online shopping company, set new records by processing over 35 billion Yuan (€4.2 billion / US $5.75 billion) in sales in 24 hours, setting a new record for e-commerce in China.

Fast-forward to Cyber Monday, December 2nd: Online sales in the United States rose by 20.6% to a record high, making it the biggest online shopping day in history. The Cyber Monday shopping tradition has also crossed the Atlantic to Europe. Visa Europe identified December 2nd—or “Mega Monday”—as the UK’s busiest shopping day, anticipating over 7.7 million transactions in online shopping alone. Counterfeiters, set on selling fake merchandise to unsuspecting shoppers, are well aware of this trend and have followed consumers online.

Counterfeiters copy the trademarks that consumers rely on. Instead of getting authentic goods with the quality and value they expect, consumers are fooled into buying inferior products. Worse, many counterfeit goods pose serious health and safety risks to consumers. And it is even easier to be fooled into buying fakes online.

To combat the sale of counterfeit merchandise online and make the Internet a safer place for consumers, eleven international law enforcement agencies coordinated the seizure of 706 websites based in Asia, Europe and the US on December 2nd. Dubbed Project Cyber Monday, the effort has resulted in the seizure of a total of 2,550 websites since the operation was launched in June 2010.

The US National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) advises consumers that the most commonly counterfeited products on the market during the holiday season include electronics, toys, luxury goods, personal hygiene products and sports jerseys. Consumers can make sure they are buying authentic goods online by:

•Being particularly wary of unsolicited offers or requests for personal data from unrecognized sources. Never provide personal identifying information in these instances.

•Examining the Internet domain name, or “URL,” for suspicious errors in spelling of the brand name or trademark - a red-flag the website may not be in use by the legitimate brand owner.

◦Consumers can also verify the owner of an website by entering the domain here: http://www.internic.net/whois.html  

•Checking the brand’s webpage for lists of official retailers for verification.

•Carefully reading product and/or seller reviews for indications of fraud when purchasing from auction sites.

•Trusting your instincts - If an offer seems “too good to be true,” it most likely is.

Consumers can report suspicious websites to the appropriate parties, including the company whose trademark is being abused, as well as organizations like the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov/complaint).

Founded in 1878, the International Trademark Association (INTA) is a global association of trademark owners and professionals dedicated to supporting trademarks and related intellectual property in order to protect consumers and to promote fair and effective commerce. Members include more than 6,300 trademark owners, professionals and academics from more than 190 countries, who benefit from the Association’s global trademark research, policy development, education and training, and international network. Headquartered in New York City, INTA also has offices in Shanghai, Brussels and Washington, D.C., and representatives in Geneva and Mumbai. 
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