Addressing the Demand for Counterfeits with Education and Creativity

Published: February 28, 2024

Alastair Gray International Trademark Association (INTA) Staff Liaison, Anticounterfeiting Committee

Grace Magid

Grace Magid International Trademark Association (INTA) Staff Liaison, Unreal Campaign Committee

Enforcement encompasses efforts to protect trademark rights, including combating infringement and cracking down on the production and supply of counterfeit goods. INTA is also working to address the demand of counterfeit goods, largely through its Unreal Campaign, which recently partnered with Amazon and DECA for its Second Annual PSA (public service announcement) Video Challenge.

Counterfeit products are a global problem that affects not only the economy, but also consumers’ health, safety, and well-being. According to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), 13 percent of Europeans admit to having intentionally purchased counterfeits in the past year, and this figure rises to 26 percent for young people ages 15 to 24. The situation is similar in other parts of the world. Young consumers can be attracted to the lower price tags and the latest fashion trends replicated by counterfeit goods, but they are often not aware of the risks and consequences of buying fake goods.

In 2019, INTA published its Gen Z Insights: Brands and Counterfeit Products study which explored the relationship between Gen Z and brands and sought to understand the factors that influence Gen Zers to purchase counterfeit products. Among many other important findings, the study found that 90 percent of Gen Zers are open to changing their views based on new things they learn. This presents the intellectual property (IP) community with an opportunity to educate young consumers and shape their purchasing habits.

The Unreal Campaign, INTA’s consumer awareness program, aims to educate young consumers (14–23 years old) about the dangers of counterfeiting and the importance of IP. Led by INTA member volunteers, the Unreal Campaign uses various channels to reach and engage young audiences, including relatable presentations largely delivered at schools, colleges, and youth-oriented events, along with online engagement via social media. (Follow us on Instagram at @unrealcampaign!)

The Unreal Campaign also encourages young consumers to become advocates for authentic products and to spread awareness of counterfeit goods among their peers and communities. One of the most innovative and effective ways that the Unreal Campaign has been able to engage young consumers is by asking them to participate in a PSA video challenge created through a partnership with Amazon Inc. and DECA (a not-for-profit student organization with more than 227,000 members in Canada, Germany, Puerto Rico, and the United States).

The Unreal Campaign PSA Challenge was launched in Spring 2023 by INTA and Amazon Inc., an Unreal Platinum+ Sponsor, and is now in its second year. The Challenge invited DECA members (high school students) to create a 60-second PSA video that would demonstrate the dangers of counterfeits and dissuade their peers from purchasing fake products. The Challenge was renewed for 2024 and was an overwhelming success, with 103 video entries and more than 100,000 public votes (by DECA student members) to select the 10 finalists.

From these 10 finalists, the following three winning videos were selected by INTA members and staff, and Amazon’s team:

  1. | Jaime Lin and Hafasa Hayat, Fairfax High School, Fairfax, Virginia, USA
  2. | Mina Cayli and Rachel Hennessy, Triangle Math and Science Academy, Cary, North Carolina, USA
  3. | Sanjana Tamma and Siya Panara, Mallard Creek High School, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Awards for the three winning videos will be presented to the students at DECA’s International Career Development Conference in Anaheim, Califiornia, USA, on April 30, 2024.

The Unreal Campaign PSA Challenge is an effective tool for educating young consumers and engaging students on the topic of IP. The Challenge allows young consumers to express their creativity and originality and empowers them to take action and make a difference. The Challenge also creates a sense of community and solidarity among young consumers who share the same vision and passion for authentic products.

All 103 student submissions are a testament to the power of education and creativity in disrupting the demand for counterfeits and promoting a culture of authenticity. It shows that we must continue to be optimistic in the fight against counterfeits when engaging with young consumers, for they are the future of the fight and are already equipped to tell the story.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of this article, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

© 2024 International Trademark Association