In what can only be called as a landmark achievement, US President Donald Trump has ordered a crackdown on online counterfeiting.
So why is Trump’s memo being hailed as important? For one, it is, by all accounts, the first time a US President has shown keen interest in this matter that is now threatening to negatively disrupt global economy. Second, this is an admission from the highest echelons of power that counterfeiting is a major menace that could amount to more than half a trillion dollars. And about 20% of this could well infringe upon US intellectual property.
Why has the menace grown to such a level? Why haven’t the leaders of online commerce done anything about it? The answer to these questions isn’t simple. And yet, it is safe to say that while counterfeiters operated under the very noses of the Amazons and Ebays and Alibabas of the world, they turned a blind eye towards it, regarding it as more of an aberration rather than admitting it as a serious problem.
And today, when the modus operandi of the counterfeiters is being discovered, a grim picture is emerging. Counterfeiting has become a well-structured industry with a refined strategy and a robust supply chain that easily traverses between the domains of legal and illegitimate. Today, all big e-commerce companies are scrambling to put an anti-counterfeiting program in place. Amazon says that they have invested $400 million in 2018 in fighting counterfeits and Alibaba says that they have developed a “best-in-class” system to fight online counterfeiting. But it is too little, too late.
A few weeks ago, Amazon announced its anti-counterfeit program, named Project Zero. Everybody knows that it has as many holes in it as there are counterfeiters on the platform. Alibaba was on the verge of being sued by a major brand for its inefficiency in stopping faking of the brand’s products. And yet, it would seem that the biggest online marketplaces are clueless as to how to tackle this global problem.
Many companies are currently seeking to solve the counterfeiting problem using a combination of methods — using RFID chips/tags, barcodes, etc. Most of these solutions aim to create a traceability chain of the product but end up increasing the cost to the manufacturer, which, eventually, has to be paid by the customer. simplyBrand, on the other hand, does something even better. It strikes where it hurts the most.
Every product has a lifecycle — from the time it is manufactured till it reaches the customer for final consumption. The most vulnerable stages for the online counterfeiter are the ones that lead up to listing of the product on the online marketplace. Once listing occurs, only one hurdle has to be crossed by the product — being bought by a customer. Once it is done, the product has made profits for the counterfeiter. And simplyBrand strikes at exactly this step.
By using a powerful combination of crowdsourced “human layer” detection, powered by cutting edge AI and blockchain, the simplyBrand solution detects fake products that are listed on the world’s major online portals. At the same time, it rewards the community for diligently participating in cleaning up global e-commerce.
The Presidential Memo holds a lot of significance for the online retail industry because it trains the guns of the world’s superpower on a growing threat. While the memo is seen as an oblique way to arm-twist China whose online marketplaces have been known to steal US IP for a long time, the US says that it has no relation to the ongoing trade talks with China.
Whatever the reason, the memo is the best thing that could have happened to the fight against online counterfeiting, because now the marketplaces know that if, according to Peter Navarro, director of the White House Trade Council, “you won’t clean it up, the Government will.” And once the government gets involved, the fight will become very ugly. It is in the best interests of global leaders of online retail to get their act together and take the bull by the horn.
simplyBrand is an inclusive ecosystem combining artificial intelligence, blockchain and crowdsourcing to eliminate counterfeit products in digital commerce. simplyBrand enables people and AI to collaborate utilizing the unique features of blockchain technology to strengthen security in online purchases.
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