The news isn’t good about counterfeit merchandise. “Friends of fakes” are out there and make the battle against counterfeiters more difficult. The so-called Dupe Influencers on social media are a wildly popular bunch that see themselves as the Robin Hood of the internet. They are not just promoting fake goods on the sly, they are outright encouraging their followers to gravitate to fakes because of their “affordability.” It’s a problem that you should know about.
Consumers are aware, they just don’t seem to mind
Aquana, a maker of web-based platforms for intellectual property management, recently surveyed 1,000 consumers on the issue of counterfeit goods.
The findings are disheartening:
- 61% said that they know purchasing counterfeit goods isn’t a victimless crime.
And when they buy fakes:
- 55% know it harmed the imitated brand
- 49% knew it opened them up to potential safety issues
- 47% knew it supports and funds criminal activity (money laundering, gun trafficking, and more)
So why do it? Most said price (42%) and availability (24%).
Dupe Influencers are popular because they promote fakes
Not all social media influencers are bad. Many use their platforms to promote authentic products. The good ones are courted by large name brands. They are effective at promotions, sales, and coveted increases in customer engagement. However, there is a fast-growing pool of social media influencers that promote counterfeit merchandise. In May 2021, the American Apparel & Footwear Association released a comprehensive report about dupe influencers. They are all over Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok, and promote counterfeits as affordable alternatives to luxury brands. These individuals obtain, review, and share links to counterfeit goods. Worse, they do it right out in the open.
As of April 26, 2021:
- #designerdupes had over 28,200 associated posts on Instagram
- #designerdupe had over 11,600 associated posts on Instagram
- #designerdupefinds had over 6,500,000 associated views on TikTok
- #dupedesigner had over 17,000 associated views on TikTok.
Their alarming behavior generates millions of views, likes, and shares of content that sell counterfeit goods online. The AAFA points out what brands (and copyright, patent, and trademark holders) already know. Counterfeits mean more than just lost sales, they directly contribute to lost jobs—from the designers to the warehousing team, to the salespeople in legitimate stores. Fakes also have product safety, environmental, and labor concerns.
What should you be doing?
While the influencer industry is relatively new, litigation and regulation are growing in this space. The FTC is also actively monitoring influencer activity. But still, much of the policing falls on the trademark, copyright, patent, and brand owner.
You should be:
- Monitoring social media for accounts selling counterfeit goods
- Filing take-down notices. Speed, consistency, and accuracy are essential
- Going after the infringing accounts directly
The bottom line
I know you have been working hard to have your name mean something trustworthy and valuable to customers. I don’t want to see your name and the reputation that goes with it stolen, poached, or spoofed. There are ways to protect your work on your own. But when we work together, you are working with someone who has been practicing Intellectual Property Law exclusively since 1996. This means I am actively working to help you identify, register, and police your inventions, brands, and creations.
Contact me today and let’s get to work together.