Home / Global issues & trends / Counterfeiting & Piracy (BASCAP) / Counterfeiting and online intermediaries

As the underlying infrastructure of all commerce, intermediaries have an inherent responsibility to restrict the abuse of their infrastructures for illicit trade.

The BASCAP paper Roles and Responsibilities of Intermediaries: Fighting counterfeiting and piracy in the supply chain details steps that intermediaries can take to help eliminate global supply chain vulnerabilities that allow infiltration of counterfeit and pirated products.

E-commerce and social media platforms

E-commerce sites are a common platform for the sale of counterfeit goods and, increasingly, the same is true for social media platforms. In addition to the sharing of pirated digital content, counterfeits can be found via dedicated marketplaces and targeted advertising leading to external sites offering fake branded goods for sale.

Without being able to see the product in person, it can be difficult for shoppers to distinguish whether a listing on an online marketplace is real or counterfeit and as the use these marketplaces grows globally, the issue becomes increasingly relevant.

BASCAP facilitates discussion between brands, online platforms and government organisations to reduce the volume of counterfeit goods offered for sale on these legitimate platforms. This is done by improving the takedown reporting systems by which brands can report infringing listings to the platform operator and by promoting the development of and strict enforcement of terms of service that forbid the sale of counterfeit goods.

As part of ongoing engagement with the European Commission, BASCAP joined brands, platforms and organisations from various sectors in signing the EU Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the online sale of counterfeit goods and provided comments on draft E-commerce laws in both the EU and China.

BASCAP’s paper Best Practices for Removing Fakes from Online Platforms helps companies to evaluate the effectiveness of their anti-counterfeiting measures, identify areas that require greater attention and assess progress over time.

Domain name registries and registrars

Domain names are vital for Internet users to find what they are looking for. But this is taken advantage of by counterfeiters. Websites selling fake branded goods use the names and associated words of the brands they infringe to draw traffic, while certain pirate sites have built their own brands around their domains.

BASCAP has engaged with registries and registrars at Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) meetings since 2016. As well as having featured on ICANN-organized panels discussing such abuse, BASCAP also participates in the voluntary work of the group, now convened by the I2 coalition, and contributes to the Healthy Domains Initiative of the Domain Name Association.

BASCAP engages with Europol, the US Intellectual Property Rights Center, the US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC), EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) on the abuse of domain names and law enforcement referrals to domain name providers regarding counterfeiting and piracy. BASCAP has also gathered data from PIPCU showing the high level of stolen personal data used to register domains used for infringement.

Search platforms

When searching for content online, mixed in with results linking to official websites and legitimate content, there will often be links to pages offering infringing content—pirated content that can be streamed or downloaded, or sellers offering counterfeit branded goods and circumvention devices to access illegal content.

By engaging with search platforms, BASCAP’s goal is to reduce the volume of these “bad” results in organic search results by improving reporting systems and the demotion or de-indexing of infringing search results, while simultaneously assisting brands in promoting their own and their partners’ legitimate search results to keep them high in search rankings.