I have a history of avoiding teaching—in college, I decided to major in music performance rather than education, because the thought of teaching a classroom full of students terrified me. This past April, however, while sitting in my car outside R.L. Turner High School in Carrollton, Texas, I took a deep breath, grabbed a folder of teaching materials and a bag containing both counterfeit and genuine MOBIL 1 motor oil bottles and entered the school to teach a new and exciting course on my favorite subject—counterfeit goods.
INTA partnered with Street Law, Inc. and the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) to create an Unreal Campaign curriculum to educate high school students about counterfeiting. Using real-life examples, this Student Outreach Program is focused on making students aware of counterfeiting and helping them understand the dangers and economic consequences of purchasing counterfeit products. The curriculum incorporates social policy, criminal law and economics to help teens learn how to make educated purchasing decisions and presents these points in an approachable and practical manner.
Melody's students work together on their written assignments
The classroom experience provides time for interaction with the students as well as the opportunity to stimulate some serious thinking. The “lecture” portion of the course includes showing students tangible examples of counterfeit versus genuine products. Examining these counterfeit goods and hearing about the possible dangers of using such products led the students into a great discussion about why they would even buy non-genuine items. The consensus was that it is definitely not cool!
I was surprised at how brand-aware students are, even beyond the iPhones and UGGs. In fact, I was shocked when one unprompted response to a question of what types of counterfeit products are available was “auto parts”! Having naively assumed that such would be a surprise to the students, I had planned this to be my big “reveal” of the course! This worked out well, though, as a learning experience for both me and the students, and following the discussion I presented a video produced for the campaign demonstrating hazards created by counterfeit car parts.
The highlight of the course was the Blue Ribbon Commission session. This collaborative effort started with small-group discussions of simulated proposed legislation at the state and local levels as well as proposed education and awareness efforts. The small-group discussions culminated in a proposal and recommendation presented to the class (as seen left). The students’ creative ideas clearly illustrated how new thoughts and views on anticounterfeiting might influence future awareness and enforcement efforts in this area.
I’m proud to say I survived my day in the classroom. It gave me the opportunity to meet a number of future leaders and to play a part in educating young consumers about counterfeit goods. I encourage my fellow INTA members to get involved in the Unreal Campaign and to reach out to their local schools to present this stimulating and innovative course.
Visit the Unreal Campaign section
on inta.org to learn more about this program and to sign up as a volunteer.Melody Schottle is Trademark Counsel for the Lubricants business at Exxon Mobil Corporation and has been active in trademark law for 20 years.