Christmas is a time of celebration, especially for the little ones of the family who wait eagerly every year for Santa Claus and the Wise Men, loaded with gifts.
Long lists of handwritten requests are long gone, and it isn’t likely that large shopping malls will publish their vademecum-like brochures with photographs of huge assortments of toys this year, like the ones that children used to add on their letters.
This holiday, e-commerce is going to send reindeers and camels into retirement: children will choose their presents on a screen, parents will buy them on the Internet and a “real postman” on his motorbike will leave them at the door or at the lift…
Throughout these months of pandemic and quarantines, it has become evident that the way in which we buy has undergone a tremendous transformation, increasing our dependence on digital channels such as marketplaces, social media, websites and apps
Although some industries have suffered a significant loss of turnover in this global crisis, others have seen their demand soar thanks to e-commerce: online sales of board games and toys, sports equipment, DIY, construction, kitchenware and work at home items have all risen sharply.
Unfortunately, this demand has attracted cybercriminals who are more sophisticated than ever, and on the lookout for illegal copies of the most sought-after products, in order to trick unsuspecting buyers into believing that the goods are legit.
That is why protection against counterfeiting has never been more important than now, when consumer behaviour is changing at a rapid pace.
Besides the damage that counterfeiting and piracy do to companies, jobs and the economy in general, online sale of counterfeit products poses a serious threat to the health and safety of society as a whole and especially that of children and young people.
Authorities alert on the danger of buying counterfeit products and how their sales are increasing in the online environment. 58% of illegal content reaches consumers via social media and 38% via e-commerce platforms, according to research carried out by the consultancy firm Smart Protection, which also found that 55.18% of those surveyed had bought a counterfeit board game or toy online without knowing.
It is up to us all to take measures to prevent these digital criminals from cheating us, making the holidays bitter for us and our children.
First, consumers should be on alert when buying on a marketplace or through social media at suspiciously low prices, or when a website sells many different trademarks with little variety of models in each of them. In that case, go to the page of the real trademark and compare: we will probably see differences that will draw our attention. We can even ask the seller for evidence that the product is legit: request pictures of the boxes, labels, zippers, sale invoices… they probably won’t even answer.
Manufacturing companies and sellers need to put the quality of their products at the forefront, testing them in accredited laboratories that certify their safety and eliminate technical barriers to marketing both in Europe and abroad; registering and defending their trademarks, designs and patents in case of infringement and, of course, adopting technological measures to detect possible infringements, removing posts on marketplaces and removing URLs that lead to counterfeits and trademark abuse.
Watch out, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming to tempt us with sweet discounts, so that we buy our Christmas presents sooner.
Don’t be fooled like a child… they realized long ago the difference between real and plastic Christmas trees.
- Cristina Gilabert | Lawyer and Manager of the PONS IP Alicante Office.
- Belén Manteca | Law Graduate and Master in Intellectual Property from the Alicante Office.