SOURCE: AGMA

AGMA

October 27, 2015 10:00 ET

AGMA Weighs In on the Global Battle Against Counterfeits in the Tech Sector

Non-Profit Organization Arms Manufacturers With Tips to Mitigate Threats to Brand Integrity, Product Safety

LOS GATOS, CA--(Marketwired - Oct 27, 2015) - Counterfeiting is a worldwide problem that drains $1 trillion from the global economy and steals over 2.5 million jobs. Thanks in large part to the Internet, it's a problem that's not going away any time soon. In fact, counterfeiting is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, with increasingly savvy perpetrators continually adding to their bag of tricks -- and necessitating increased efforts and new tactics to help mitigate the threat.

AGMA, a non-profit organization and the largest group solely focused on IP protection in the high-tech industry, wants manufacturers to know that proactively addressing the threat posed by counterfeiting can go a long way toward protecting their brand -- and instilling confidence in end users.

The counterfeit problem is far larger and more insidious than knock off designer handbags or watches, and no industry is immune. While consumer electronics are heavily affected by counterfeit activity -- they are the third most frequently seized fake product -- the high-tech industry is being infiltrated across the board. From circuit breakers to servers to cables and connectors, any component, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, can and will be counterfeited.

In addition to the monetary losses and degraded brand equity faced by manufacturers, counterfeits harm their customers as well. Counterfeit IT products can be seen as 'ticking time bombs,' with product malfunctions potentially causing physical harm and unseen, embedded dangers leading to identity theft -- and more. For instance, a recent mobile phone study found one or more instances of malware in half of the counterfeit phones tested. Once inside, counterfeiters can harvest passwords and private information that can be used for identity theft.

What can manufacturers do? According to AGMA Advocate Tracy Garner, who is the global anti-counterfeiting manager for Schneider Electric, it starts with the trademark process. Garner encourages brand owners to:

  • Be diligent about properly registering trademarks in each country in which they do business
  • Ensure that trademarks are registered in the appropriate class of goods
  • Do everything in their power to protect their trademarks -- including working with customs and other governmental authorities
  • Stay on top of renewals

Garner also advises IT manufacturers to encourage end customers to purchase directly from them or from an authorized distributor -- a list of whom should be made easily available on the manufacturer's website. That website should also contain a place that consumers can go to report suspected counterfeits.

"The counterfeit problem is an ever-growing one, enabled by the 24/7, global nature of the Internet," noted Garner. "It benefits the public and private sectors to work together to address the issue; and sharing policies and best practices is one way to do this. For example -- while conducting investigations is hugely important in helping to track counterfeit activity and expose those responsible -- you're not going to get very far if you don't enlist the help of and cooperate with local authorities."

As an industry association, AGMA is chartered with addressing four key threats to intellectual property in the high-tech industry: Gray marketing, counterfeiting, service/warranty abuse, and digital IP fraud. AGMA employs a number of different tactics in its mission to hinder threats to IP and render these activities more difficult, undesirable and unprofitable. Some of these tactics include event speaking, educational initiatives, benchmark studies, industry guidelines, and public policy advocacy.

According to AGMA president Sally Nguyen, "In an effort to aid our members in the battle to protect their intellectual property we have identified industry experts that can educate and share best practices. These AGMA Advocates, like Tracy Garner, are specialists in their fields, and provide specific, insightful information to help technology companies get educated about the dangers of these various threats to IP."

To learn more about AGMA please visit www.agmaglobal.org.

About AGMA
AGMA is a non-profit organization comprised of influential companies in the technology sector. Incorporated in 2001, AGMA's mission is to address gray market fraud, parallel imports, counterfeiting, software piracy, and service abuse of technology products around the globe. The organization's goals are to protect intellectual property and authorized distribution channels, improve customer satisfaction and preserve brand integrity.

AGMA welcomes any technology manufacturer, as well as persons or entities that own or hold intellectual property rights to finished goods outside the technology industry; product and service providers; government and law enforcement officials who provide goods and/or services to combat gray market fraud, counterfeiting and warranty and service abuse threats. AGMA uses a variety of avenues to cultivate change in the marketplace, including event speaking, educational initiatives, benchmark studies, industry guidelines, and, where appropriate, public policy advocacy. To learn more about AGMA's initiatives or to become a member, please visit www.agmaglobal.org or follow them on Twitter.

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