Tell me about the work of SnapDragon.
SnapDragon monitors the world’s busiest marketplaces – including eBay, Alibaba, Allegro, Amazon – for counterfeit items. We find instances of intellectual property infringement on behalf of our clients. Once identified, we work with the marketplace to remove the offending item(s). If the vendor is a repeat offender, there may be a case to ban that vendor from the marketplace altogether and legal action may follow.
It’s important work; a brand’s reputation is at risk through counterfeiting and profits from the counterfeit industry are often channelled into hideous trades such as weapons, human trafficking, and drugs. Fakes can also be contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals that cause harm to the public. Parts can break or malfunction and cause harm to individuals. In the case of toys, children are particularly at risk.
How has the world of fakes evolved over the past decade?
The rate at which the counterfeit trade spreads is astounding. The sales of fake items increase 25% year-after-year; 2.5% of all global trade is counterfeit; 12% of all toys in Europe are thought to be fake. It garners half a trillion dollars in sales each year. It’s a major issue for everyone.
What toy brands are targetted most frequently by fraudsters?
Any global brand – even small ones – are at risk. The toy industry is ahead of the curve in that they are organized and fighting back against the counterfeit industry. They were one of the first industries to recognize the magnitude of the problem and have rallied ever since.
My advice to anyone designing a product is to register the trademark as soon as possible. It gives a brand legal grounds to fight counterfeiters.
Counterfeit products can hold long-term consequences for a brand’s reputation. Tell me about a brand that is still dealing with the fallout from counterfeit toys.
It wouldn’t be fair of me to single out a specific brand; few are untouched by the problem.
What risks do counterfeit toys hold for the public?
There can be many risks: lead-based paints, parts that malfunction, pieces that come off and pose a choking hazard. Counterfeit manufacturers excel at keeping pace with legitimate manufacturers to offer products during peak purchasing times such as Christmas. The temptation is there for a parent to buy an often hard-to-find toy for their child at a lower price. But that financial savings translate into increased risk for their child and funding for nefarious trades. If I could pass along a piece of advice for anyone making online purchases it would be for them to slow down and really think about that purchase. It just isn’t worth the true cost.
Five questions, one fascinating person (or team!) – look into the minds of movers and shakers in the nostalgia, game, play, or toy industry.