More effective consumer protection required

With its proposal to update the General Product Safety Directive, the European Commission aims to strengthen the rights of consumers in an increasingly digital world. The German brand association Markenverband e.V., however, does not believe that the revision goes far enough. According to the association, the legal measures should aim to truly protect consumers from the existing dangers on the internet. As Christian Köhler, Managing Director of Markenverband e.V., emphasized, the risks that counterfeit products pose to the user must also be taken into account. After all, counterfeits in sensitive areas – for example, in the pharmaceutical or safety-relevant car spare parts sectors – can even be life-threatening. Köhler considers the Digital Service Act, which is currently being voted on, as a suitable tool to prevent counterfeit products from being offered online in the future.

Until then, manufacturers can also take action themselves and make their products counterfeit-proof by taking appropriate measures. Reliable brand and product protection from TRUSTCONCEPT® provides long-term support for customers from a wide range of industries in the fight against brazen counterfeiters and gives consumers the necessary security.


Increasing number of counterfeit car spare parts in circulation

Whether brake discs, rim covers, or headlight switches – counterfeit car spare parts are increasingly spreading on relevant online sales platforms, sometimes at strikingly low prices. The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting temporary closure of car dealerships has further accelerated this development in recent months.

Consumers who believe they are getting a bargain online therefore endanger themselves and other road users – after all, high-quality car spare parts are essential for road safety.

In order to protect themselves and their customers, several well-known car manufacturers have declared war on counterfeiters. VW and Daimler, for example, were involved in several hundred raids last year. VW reports around 6.5 million euros worth of confiscated counterfeit car spare parts. Another component in the strategic approach to combat counterfeit products is the ’Manufacturers Against Product Piracy’ (MAPP) industry initiative, which was launched by members of the European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA).

Car manufacturers and suppliers can also protect their products with reliable TRUSTCONCEPT® security features and ensure a high level of transparency in the supply chain.


Supply chains: Practical solutions are in demand

Under what conditions is a product manufactured? Can it be ruled out that production is linked to child labor, exploitation, lack of labor rights, or environmental degradation?

Traceability and transparency are becoming increasingly important in the supply chain, to ensure sustainability and the protection of human rights. The German Federal Government shares this view, and in March 2021 it passed the ‘Law on Corporate Due Diligence in Supply Chains.’ That means in the future German companies will have even more obligation to fulfil their global responsibilities. At the same time, the new law is faced with enormous challenges because the supplier networks are usually highly complex and cross different national borders multiple times. As a result, supply chains are vulnerable to embezzlement and fraud.

Just like many other initiatives, the Düsseldorf Chamber of Commerce and Industry is therefore asking for improvement in a position paper. It states that the economy is naturally committed to supply chains that comply with environmental and human rights laws but would need even more practical solutions and support in their implementation.

As an expert in product and brand protection, LEONHARD KURZ also offers practical help for companies: With TRUSTCONCEPT® security solutions, the identity of products can be visually verified, on the one hand. And on the other hand, all movement data of the goods can also be tracked throughout the entire value chain.


Joining forces to drive counterfeiting protection: KURZ acquires scribos from tesa

With a total value of EUR 238.87 million, German customs reported a new record for the confiscation of counterfeits in 2020.1 In order to continue to reliably protect companies and products, LEONHARD KURZ is expanding its security portfolio: As of September 1, 2021, the tesa subsidiary scribos will become part of the KURZ Group.

Together with scribos – a renowned and market-leading digital brand protection platform – the KURZ Group is setting a new course for product and brand protection. To achieve this, we are combining our many years of expertise in thin-film technology with the innovative spirit of scribos as an experienced security expert, to further advance our product development in security solutions. These synergies are a promising basis for innovative, tailor-made security solutions and a global, professional service.

One of LEONHARD KURZ’s recipes for success is its broad product portfolio with room for industry-specific individuality. In this way, even after the takeover of scribos, the organization, including management and employees, as well as the sites, will retain their existing form. “Over 20 years, scribos has developed into one of the leading solution providers for digital transformation at product level and has redefined brand protection with markings and digitalization solutions. We want to maintain this drive to success by strengthening the basis of our success story," explains KURZ CEO Walter Kurz and adds: “When it comes to security, trust is known to be the strongest currency. Like scribos, we have earned this trust from our customers over the years.” This is why customers will experience the close partnership as a profitable bundling of expertise in safety – with top products, solutions, and service. And, if you look closely, you will notice a slight adjustment to some product names owing to the expansion of the KURZ family.

([1] https://www.zoll.de/SharedDocs/Broschueren/DE/Die-Zollverwaltung/jahresstatistik_2020.html?nn=287024.)


Amazon releases brand protection report

In 2020, Amazon seized and destroyed more than two million counterfeit items sold through the platform. The Group blocked another ten billion suspected counterfeits before they could even be published. This is reflected in Amazon’s brand protection report, which the company recently released.

According to its own information, the e-commerce giant invested more than 700 million U.S. dollars in the protection against fraud and counterfeiting last year. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the measures taken.

Manufacturers can prevent counterfeit products – from cosmetics and toys to textiles and luxury goods – from entering the market in the first place by using reliable, high-quality brand protection.


First proceedings initiated vaccination passport counterfeiters

Vaccines are still scarce, and many people are still waiting for their vaccination date. Against the backdrop of the upcoming holiday season and the easing of restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals, it is not surprising that counterfeit vaccination passports are increasingly appearing on the internet. The authorities are now taking action against counterfeiters. The Cologne detective force has formed the ‘Stamp’ investigation group for this purpose – and proceedings in the double-digit range have already been initiated at the State Office of Criminal Investigations (LKA) in Munich. However, the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) expects a significantly higher number of unreported cases in counterfeiting attempts, and an increasing trend.

Not only providers but also buyers of falsified documents are facing severe penalties, including imprisonment in some cases. However, businesses and institutions can protect consumers at an early stage by implementing reliable anti-counterfeiting measures against the falsification of physical and digital documents.


The European Football Championship is a real windfall for counterfeiters

Your favorite player’s jersey, caps in the colors of your own country, or a scarf with your club’s logo: Any soccer fan worth their salt will be keen to show off their allegiance. Merchandise items are in greater demand than ever before, especially during major sporting events such as the European Championship that just ended. A welcome occasion for counterfeiters, who rake in big bucks with their counterfeit products – very much to the detriment of manufacturers of licensed products, who not only have to accept severe income losses, but also damage to their credibility among customers.

A recent report released by the Cologne customs authorities highlights the dimensions of product piracy surrounding major sporting events. Over the past few weeks, officials at Cologne/Bonn Airport have been able to seize a total of 11,222 Nike-branded counterfeit jerseys and jersey sets, with an estimated original value of almost €900,000.

In order to support manufacturers in their fight against such counterfeit products and to prevent cheap copies of merchandise items from entering the market, LEONHARD KURZ has developed the proven TRUSTSEAL® Protect concept. Please don’t hesitate to contact us!


German customs reports record figures

The value of seized counterfeit products is higher than ever. In 2020, German customs recorded a new record in the confiscation of counterfeits: Goods discovered had a total value of €238.87 million. For comparison, in 2019 that figure was €224.45 million. There was a sharp increase to €2.06 million in the pharmaceutical goods category, in particular  (in 2019: €512,495). Customs was also able to seize significantly higher values than in the previous year in the food and beverage, electric/electronic equipment, personal care products, and the shoes, clothing, accessories segments.

But this is probably only the tip of the iceberg! In many cases, counterfeiters still manage to work undetected. Effective counterfeit protection for products and brands is therefore becoming more important than ever. 

The total annual statistics for 2020 can be found at the German Customs Website.


COVID-19: Number of counterfeit vaccine brands and fake vaccination certificates on the increase

While the vaccination campaign in Germany has picked up speed in the second quarter of 2021, reports of counterfeit vaccines, vaccination certificates, and COVID-19 test results have also increased recently. In April, dozens of doses of allegedly the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine were confiscated in Poland and Mexico and subsequently proved to be merely a cosmetic substance. According to IAVCworld, the market for counterfeit vaccination certificates is also growing on the darknet. Recently, security experts discovered more than 1,200 pages of dubious offers. This is also problematic in view of the planned introduction of a digital COVID-19 vaccination certificate, as the data on vaccinations that have already taken place should be transferrable from the paper version.

Advanced safety labeling for drugs, as well as digital and physical documents and products, can be used to minimize the health risks posed by counterfeit vaccines and increase confidence in the vaccination campaign.

(Photo from Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels)


Infamous prize for brazen counterfeiters

If you want to spot differences between counterfeited and original products here, you’ll need to look very closely. Since 1977, the Plagiarius Association has been awarding its infamous ’Plagiarius’ prize – a black dwarf with a golden nose – to the most brazen counterfeiters. The aim of the initiative is to pillory intellectual property thieves for their crimes, thereby raising awareness among politicians and industry, but above all among consumers, of the problem of brand and product piracy.

After all, counterfeit products do not just cause enormous economic damage to the manufacturers of the original products, but consumers will typically not be able to enjoy their purchase for very long either! Upon closer inspection, major quality differences in terms of material, workmanship, and functionality quickly become apparent.

If you want to give consumers the certainty that they are purchasing a high-quality original, you should focus on sustainable product protection. Feel free to contact us for an early look at our flexible security solutions against counterfeitproducts.