Get Real About Intellectual Property Theft

Many people believe that purchasing counterfeit products is a victimless crime and bargains like these are a part of everyday life. The consequences of intellectual property theft are real and include increased gang and organized crime activity, economic loss, and life-threatening harm to consumer health and safety. Intellectual property theft isn’t a victimless crime.  Thieves reap huge profits from the counterfeit products, which in turn can damage lives and destroy neighborhoods.

Partner Resources

Ten Tips to Avoid Purchasing Dangerous Fakes

The production, distribution and sales of counterfeit goods have become a multi-billion dollar criminal activity that affects almost every American industry. While criminals see this as a lucrative, low-risk business model, this illicit activity not only harms U.S. businesses but also puts American consumers at risk.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center, which represents a large cross-section of the world’s most innovative and creative businesses, has issued the following consumer safety alert and tips for consumers to avoid purchasing these dangerous fakes.

  1. Trust your instincts. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
  2. Insist on secure transactions. When doing business online, make sure your payments are submitted via websites beginning with https:// (the “s” stands for secure) and look for a lock symbol at the bottom of your browser.
  3. Watch for missing sales tax charges. Businesses trading in counterfeit goods often do not report their sales to financial authorities—a difference you may notice in the price you ultimately pay, particularly in states that collect sales taxes.
  4. Seek quality assurance in the secondary market. Reputable and reliable resellers have comprehensive inspection and authentication procedures and technicians to inspect the equipment they sell.
  5. Be particularly careful purchasing medicine online. Reports suggest that 96% of online pharmacies do not meet safety or legal standards.
  6. Be vigilant when buying abroad. When shopping on international websites, look for trusted vendors that use identifiable privacy and security safeguards and have legitimate addresses.
  7. Avoid the impossible. If a movie is still in theaters (or has not even premiered in theaters yet), beware of online streaming or download sites, which oftentimes install malware that can steal your credit card and other personal information without you even knowing.
  8. Scrutinize labels, packaging, and contents. Look for missing or expired “use by” dates, broken or missing safety seals, missing warranty information, or otherwise unusual packaging.
  9. REPORT FAKE PRODUCTS THAT ARE FAULTY OR DANGEROUS. Consumers can play an important role in keeping the market free of fakes. Report unsafe products to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  10. Spread the word about the danger of fake products. Teach your kids about counterfeits and warn friends and family of illegitimate product sources.


Other educational efforts can be helpful, in addition to the National Crime Prevention Council and U.S. Chamber, the following partners were recognized as IP Champions for their campaigns to provide helpful consumers information about the dangerous nature of fake goods, and the bad guys behind them.

  • “Be Safe. Buy Smart.” a consumer awareness campaign by The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies, to arm individuals with information to ensure safe medicine purchases online.
  • “Anti-Counterfeit Consumer Awareness Campaign” by Canon U. S. A., for highlighting the danger of counterfeit electronic goods.
  • “Counterfeit: Don’t buy into organized crime” by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime for educating the public on how counterfeit goods are being used to funnel money to more nefarious efforts.

Consumers Try To Spot Dangerous Fakes In Times Square: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center launches their consumer awareness campaign, highlight the real dangers of counterfeit products.


Getting More Than You Bargained For: The creation and trafficking of counterfeit and pirated goods have become a lucrative business that hurts the American economy and destroys lives.  Learn how to protect yourself from the damaging effects of counterfeiting.

IP Delivers Poster:  You might be surprised by how many products depend on the intellectual property protection of patents, trademarks, and copyrights.  This poster shows you how IP intersects with your daily life and the products you depend upon.

IP Delivers Infographic:  The old adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words” is an appropriate way to describe this infographic that lets you know IP delivers infinite possibilities in your life.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes Leaflet on the true cost of counterfeit goods.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes Leaflet on the true cost of counterfeit goods in Spanish.

Fact Sheet

IP Delivers Infinite Possibilities:  This fact sheet discusses the IP Delivers educational campaign of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center.

IPR Center Fact Sheet:  The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center’s (IPR Center) mission is to ensure national security by protecting the public’s health and safety, the U.S. economy, and our war fighters, and to stop predatory and unfair trade practices that threaten the global economy.

Illegal Downloads:  Technology has made downloading movies and music easy and convenient.  But did you know you may be helping gangs or organized crime when you buy a counterfeit CD or DVD or download a movies and music illegally? 

For more information, please contact Brian Noyes, at or 202-463-5804. 

NCPC Resources


Premonition:  On a busy street teeming with sidewalk stalls, a young woman looks down at a stack of DVDs held in her hands. Beside her stands the vendor. As the vendor touches the money, we close in on the young woman’s eyes. Glimpses of the consequences flash before her.

It Hurts:  Addie Brownlee (, a young musician, plays her guitar to the commuting crowd in a subway station. At her feet is a guitar case open for donations, some loose bills are scattered inside. As she sings commuters gather around but one by one they remove money from her guitar case.

The Dangers of Intellectual Property Theft: Just because something is cheap doesn’t make it a genuine bargain after all.  There’s a lot at stake when you purchase counterfeit or pirated products. Intellectual property theft has real consequences.

Center for Safe Online Pharmacies – Be Safe. Buy Smart. The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) is a nonprofit organization chartered in 2011 to help Internet industry leaders find a way to address the growing problem of consumer access to illegitimate pharmaceutical products on the Internet. The entities selling these “medicines” typically advertise and present themselves as pharmacies, which inspires consumer trust. The average consumer has no way to know whether the product he or she is purchasing is counterfeit or otherwise unsafe, and is therefore not only vulnerable to the dangers associated with these substances, but also often has little recourse.

“Spot the Fake” Video – Canon asked everyday people if they think they can spot a counterfeit “Canon” battery. Do you think they were able to spot the fake? Watch the video and find out.

‘Counterfeit: Don’t buy into organized crime’ – UNODC launches new outreach campaign on $250 billion a year counterfeit business.


Counterfeit DrugsFake medicines contain potentially dangerous ingredients like antifreeze.

Don’t Get Burned: Dangerous counterfeit products are purchased every day unknowingly.

Fashionista: The dollars you save on counterfeit goods come at a cost to others.

Jobs/Piracy: The pirated entertainment your purchase or download can cost U.S. jobs.

Dangerous FakesBuy safe.  Purchase medicine from legitimate sources. 

Sneakers: These sneakers really were a steal – stolen trademarks and company profits. 


Intellectual Property Theft: Get Real:  This website will tell you about the research that went into the campaign, the different types of intellectual property theft, and how to keep from being a victim of intellectual property theft.