All for one…

Haydn Simpson

This week – 8th June to be precise – sees the return of Global Anti-counterfeiting Day. I will be at the UNIFAB and GAGC event in Paris, where I will have the pleasure of addressing a very knowledgeable audience of brand owners, government ministers and enforcement agencies.


The theme this year is the challenge of counterfeiting in the sports industry. Replica kits, fake tickets and the illegal streaming of live events all have a number of harmful effects, so there are certainly some key issues to overcome. Euro 2016 is a key target for the counterfeiters, and it’ll be interesting to see any conclusions that can be drawn as to the level of fraudulent activity surrounding the tournament.


Having spent the past week at the annual INTA meeting in Orlando, it is ever more apparent that the issue of counterfeiting crosses all geographical and industry boundaries. Many of the very interesting and in-depth conversations I had with brand owners and IP practices alike showed that a considerable amount of time, energy and money is being spent to better understand, and ultimately mitigate, the risks to brands, revenues and consumers.


Estimates of the global impact of the trade in counterfeit goods put the annual loss to business between $500m and $1.5 trillion. Some industries are affected more than others, but NetNames’ client base shows no industry is immune – our key clients come from luxury, FMCG, consumer electronics, automotive, entertainment… and many others.


Many of the brand owners I speak to don’t know how, or in some cases are unwilling, to reach out to their peer companies to discuss what can be done to fight fraud in a collaborative way. There are more and more resources being allocated to anti-counterfeiting, but in many cases organizations remain focused on working out what to do themselves with little outreach to those that may have been through the same painful process before. I’m not saying that all brand owners are open and transparent about their anti-counterfeiting activities, but I think some people would be surprised at how collaborative people are willing to be. After all, there is a common enemy out there.


Where we see brand owners working together, or indeed where there’s a strong industry representation taking their messages to the marketplace (I still see the work MPAA did with Alibaba in 2011 as a great example of this), there are many success stories based on the pooling of resources – both physical and budgetary – to get a result. The sessions we hold at NetNames to encourage knowledge sharing between diverse companies produce really encouraging interaction and results. There is a Chinese proverb that, roughly translated, says: “you cannot clap with just one hand.” I’d like to see brand owners consider what more can be achieved if they become more open to sharing their success.


Looking ahead to Euro 2016 in France, even if it’s the wrong-shaped ball for an egg-chaser like myself, we’ll see shining examples of teamwork alongside individual determination and skill. Sporting analogies are ten-a-penny, but if brand owners could realize that they’re on the same team, reconsider their game plan, move the goalposts and get the ball rolling towards more collaboration, I think there would be immediate and valuable benefits.