The number of illegal classified ads intended to sell real or fake vaccines, or fake certificates of vaccination against Covid, is on the rise. Sold from $ 500, these products very often turn out to be scams or fakes.
“As several Covid-19 vaccines approach approval and wide distribution, it will be crucial to ensure the security of the supply chain and identify illicit websites that sell counterfeit products “, warned the Interpol organization in December 2020
Counterfeiting affects many products in our daily lives today, and we are all exposed to it.
What is counterfeiting?
According to INSEE, counterfeiting corresponds to the “production, imitation or total or partial use of a trademark, design, patent, software or copyright, without the authorization of its holder, by affirming or allowing to presume that the copy is authentic”.
Since the marketing of anti-Covid vaccines began, fake products have emerged in several countries. Counterfeits of several lots of Pfizer were seized in Mexico and Poland.
Pfizer claims to have identified in Mexico and Poland the first confirmed cases of counterfeits of its Covid-19 vaccine developed with BioNTech, with criminals attempting to exploit the global vaccination campaign.
About 80 people received a fake vaccine at a Mexican clinic at a cost of around $ 1,000 a dose, but they do not appear to have suffered any physical harm.
The vials, found in coolers, had different lot numbers from those sent to the state as well as a false expiration date, said Dr Manuel de la O Cavazos, Secretary of Health for the State of Nuevo León.
Likewise, a network of traffickers of fake Covid-19 vaccines has been dismantled by Chinese police. 3000 syringes containing salt water were seized. The counterfeiters “were eventually considering selling their vaccines abroad.”
Police officers destroyed counterfeit laboratories, cut commercial chains, and arrested more than 80 suspects. And the fake doses were sold at a high price.
Criminal exploitation of global demand for Covid-19 vaccines
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also expressed concern about a potential criminal exploitation of the huge unmet global demand for vaccines against the new coronavirus, warning against counterfeit vaccines and urging the population to comply with government-administered vaccination programs.
According to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, several ministries of health, national regulatory authorities and public procurement agencies around the world have received suspicious offers to supply vaccines.
The WHO is “aware that vaccines are diverted and reintroduced into the supply chain, with no guarantee that the cold chain has been maintained,” he said, adding that counterfeit vaccines have been sold on the Internet, mainly on the Darkweb. It was also reported that “criminal groups” were reusing empty vaccine vials.
Ads for the illegal sale of Covid vaccines are proliferating on Darknet online sales sites. Their number has tripled in the past three months, say researchers at cybersecurity firm Check Point.
Faced with the increase in counterfeiting and other illegal activities linked to the covid-19 pandemic, the Council of Europe is issuing new recommendations to governments, on the basis of its Convention on the counterfeiting of medical products and similar crimes involving threats to public health (MEDICRIME Convention).
How to protect intellectual property rights on the Internet to avoid counterfeiting?
In view of these elements, companies must actively protect their intellectual property rights, including on the Internet, in order to avoid falling sales and losing customers.
In fact, the consumer who is the victim of a scam will tend to turn away from the company whose products or services have been counterfeited.
It is about obtaining an operating monopoly, which can be renewable indefinitely and which will constitute the pillar in your marketing and commercial strategy.
It is important to register the trademark from the genesis of the project. It will be necessary to determine a limited but suitable territory. Likewise, it is key to think globally and digitally and to envision the protection of domain names when registering the trademark.
Effective brand protection on the Internet operates through a strategy that includes prior searches and monitoring as well as good management of the company’s trademarks portfolio, although the risk of counterfeiting remains.
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