This blog post was co-authored by Anel Aguilar (BLP Abogados, Costa Rica)
Having the opportunity to be part of the Unreal Campaign was an inspiring way to gain some perspective on the work done in a law firm’s intellectual property department day-to-day. As IP lawyers, we know the real impact of trademarks on consumers; however, spending time talking about trademarks with some persuasive consumers such as teenagers gives one the chance to stop and realize that these teenagers make trade decisions every single day, hence the relevance for them to know the impact of counterfeiting on their lives.
Surfing the web on their phones, checking social media, or watching television, teenagers are surrounded by trademarks from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to bed. They are influenced by artists, friends, parents, even strangers—by anyone having goods that teens want to buy. Teens know trademarks; however, one of the main things I learned in participating in the Unreal Campaign is that teens always want to know more! Teenagers are eager to learn about intellectual property, different kinds of trademarks, the importance of IP to companies and consumers, and the dangers of counterfeiting.
This expression of interest on the part of teenagers about this topic was, for me, the best part of the activity. As teachers, parents, and older siblings, we know that teenagers’ capacity for attention to one subject is sometimes transient. It was unexpected and inspiring to experience teens asking questions, expressing their desire to learn more, and demonstrating their comprehension of trade issues and why fighting counterfeiting is so important. In a session titled “How to Be an Intelligent Consumer,” students were eager to be identified as that intelligent consumer. One student even showed me an account that he follows on Instagram where people identify details of authentic shoes and compare authentic shoes to copies. “I’m obsessed with sneakers,” he said.
Presenting the Unreal Campaign program to students of a lower social-economic class was another focal point that I found quite interesting and that made my participation rewarding. Some students were at first doubtful about having strong penalties imposed by law against counterfeiters. When these students were reminded, however, of the real consequences of counterfeit goods and services on health and security (as in medicine counterfeiting, for example), then they realized the law has a real purpose.
Participating in the Unreal Campaign was an inspiring opportunity that reminded me, as an IP lawyer, that protecting the consumer and defending companies’ intellectual property matters. The fight against counterfeiting requires our support in every possible way, and the Unreal Campaign does an extraordinary job in this regard. Bravo, Unreal Campaign!
Thank you to our Unreal Campaign sponsors, Tilleke & Gibbins, for making these events possible.