- 40 years experience in product and supply chain integrity as an investigator and advisor
- 29 years experience with U.S. Government agencies investigating and prosecuting import and export crimes and high technology and munitions theft
- Consults with consumer goods and industrial clients in anti-counterfeiting, and security of personnel, supply chain and facilities
- All 7 Best Practices
- Pre-Meeting Discovery Process
- One-on-One Call with Expert
- Meeting Summary Report
- Post-Meeting Engagement
Import Controls - Product Protection
- The organizations lacks awareness of the counterfeit threat.
Any company with a popular product or brand should be aware that it may already be a victim of product counterfeiting. No longer are counterfeiters solely targeting manufacturers of high-end watches, handbags or wearing apparel; they are clearly involved in trafficking counterfeit good and merchandise across the spectrum. Any company with a valuable brand should consider itself an actual or potential target of these criminal organizations.
- There is a failure to monitor key indicators that may indicate a counterfeit threat.
Brand owners, no matter the nature of their brand, should consider some of the following indicators as possible warning signs of a potential counterfeiting threat:
- Unexplained fluctuations of sales numbers.
- Increased consumer complaints due to perceived quality issues.
- Unexplained increases in product returns.
- Unexpected inquiries from distributors and/or retailers regarding product quality.
- Discovery of product being sold at unauthorized locations, such as small “mom and pop” stores, flea markets, street vendors, boutique stores.
- Increased inquiries or requests for assistance from law enforcement or other governmental agencies regarding sales and distribution of the product.
- The organization has trouble effectively coordinating or communicating with the proper authorities.
Although inquiries from governmental agencies may be an alert that trafficking of counterfeit product is taking place, such communication is also an opportunity for the brand owner to enlist support from the investigating agency or governmental department.
To effectively collaborate with law enforcement or the agency involved, keep in mind that law enforcement personnel are appreciative of any direct support that may be provided by the brand owner during the conduct of their investigation. However, the investigative officers take full ownership of such investigations and will at times only accept limited assistance from the company involved.
- Government agencies seems reluctant to conduct investigations in an area where there may be a perception that the only victim is the brand owner.
A very effective tool in securing “buy-in” from governmental agencies is to provide no-cost training to investigators as to the identification and authentication of suspected counterfeit products, as well as methods of detecting and identifying potential traffickers.
This effort not only provides information important to a successful investigation, but also provides the opportunity for “trainers” to effectively liaison with investigators. An effective and long-standing working relationship with law enforcement may result from this investment.
- The information provided to law enforcement or regulatory agencies lacks completion or detail.
While law enforcement and regulatory agencies may appreciate any information provided by the brand owner, it is imperative the information be complete and detailed. All inquiries should provide enough detailed information to allow agents or officers to initiate an investigation with confidence that violations have either occurred or are in the planning stages. Provide specific information and avoid generalities.
- The organization fails to speak to regulators or law enforcement with a consistent voice.
Choose an appropriate company representative to present the company’s position to regulators or law enforcement. The individual should meet with investigative agencies, be very familiar with the product, and be well prepared to answer any questions that may be posed.
Serious consideration should be given to utilizing a private investigator or other person familiar with Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues and investigations. Whomever the representative, he or she should be able to establish immediate rapport and credibility with the government agency involved.