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Go for Real: An Innovative USPTO Partnership Helping Young Consumers Avoid Dangerous Counterfeits

Blog by Kathi Vidal, Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO

This is the first blog post in a series the USPTO is launching on our comprehensive anti-counterfeiting efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of buying counterfeit products and encourage more consumers to buy real products. Stay tuned for more from this series as we continue our call to buy smart and stay safe.

As America’s innovation agency, the USPTO strives to protect trademarks, from those owned by individuals and start-ups to the world’s best-known brands. The USPTO works to change the discourse on buying counterfeit products and to educate consumers about the dangers and consequences of buying counterfeit products.

Counterfeit products, such as faulty electronics and fake drugs, cause serious injury and death. Fake electronics and consumer items can cause fires or contain dangerous chemicals that can seep into the skin. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, in its One Pill Can Kill campaign, notes that criminal drug rings are flooding the U.S. market with mass-produced fake pills and mismarketing them on social media and e-commerce platforms like legitimate prescription pills.

Buying counterfeit products funnels money from American jobs and businesses into criminal enterprises, supporting human trafficking, the gun and drug trade, and other crimes. We estimate that the global sale of counterfeit products hovers around $2 trillion per year, more than the GDP of 216 countries, including Italy, Canada and Spain. In fiscal year 2021, the investigation of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Homeland Security seized more than 27,000 shipments containing counterfeit goods, d ‘a total value (if they had been genuine) of over $3.3 billion.

Here at the USPTO, we work across government and with legitimate businesses that invest significantly in their products and brands. We are joined in this important work by our colleagues from the US Food and Drug Administration, US Customs and Border Protection, the International Trade Administration (ITA), the US Copyright Office and private sector leaders such as the International Trademark Association (INTA), the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF), the innovation film organization Cinequest, and several others. Together, we must fight the physical and economic damage caused by faulty and dangerous counterfeit products, while freezing the criminal enterprises they support.

Education about the dangers of counterfeit products needs to start early. That’s why, since 2019, the USPTO has partnered with the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) and McGruff the Crime Dog® on Go For Real.MT country. This innovative, multi-format public awareness initiative educates tweens, teens and their caregivers and educators on how to spot counterfeit products and avoid the risk of harm they pose.

Mcgruff visits USPTO Headquarters

On August 5, McGruff the Crime Dog visited the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, VA (Photos by Jeff Isaacs/USPTO)

On August 11, the Go For Real campaign launched its latest public service announcement (PSA), “The Real McGruff”, featuring a 3D animated McGruff the crime dog and his nephew, Scruff. This new public service announcement will be seen by millions of people in English and Spanish on TV, social media and other distribution channels. In its first week alone, the PSA aired approximately 300 times, including on major networks and Spanish-language channels in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Boston, and more.

Image of McGruff winking in new public service announcement

The USPTO is thrilled to team up with this modernized McGruff to tackle this 21st century crime that endangers the health and safety of millions of people, jeopardizes American businesses and the millions of workers they serve. employ and threatens American competitiveness around the world. Protecting legitimate brands is vital to ensuring a safe and stable economy, and we encourage all consumers to “Go For Real”.

You can check out the new PSA here and check out the rest of the engaging and educational content from the Go For Real campaign. My personal favorites include:

• The award-winning “You’re Smart. Buy Smart” PSA, debuted in November 2021. It has aired more than 50,000 times on TV channels nationwide.
• The digital Dupe Detector Kit, an interactive eBook that challenges readers to test their Dupe Detector skills. It provides tips on how to tell a real product from a fake, trivia to reinforce learning, and the opportunity to earn points that can be used for collectible badges on the Go For Real campaign webpage. .
• The #GoForReal Challenge, an interactive quiz that will test your knowledge of the surprising and sometimes amazing materials that are used in counterfeit products.

Young people get the message. A survey conducted last year by Ipsos, an international market research and consulting firm, found that teenagers exposed to the Go For Real campaign showed greater awareness of the dangers of counterfeits, felt more confident in spotting counterfeit products and were more likely to make an effort to buy genuine products.

Opt for real metro advertising

And we’re just getting started. Those in the Washington, DC area may see the Go For Real advertisement on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s bus and subway system. Recently, the National Crime Prevention Council partnered with NASCAR to raise awareness of the campaign, with racer Joey Gase displaying the Go for Real logo on his #35 car at the WAWA 250 in Daytona Beach, Florida. And in the coming months, the Go For Real campaign will launch new online game and educational content, and hold more in-person events featuring the beloved McGruff.

Go for Real logo on the NASCAR race car

Go for Real logo on Joey Gase’s #35 car at the WAWA 250 in Daytona Beach, Florida (photo courtesy of the National Crime Prevention Council)

Go For Real is also making waves internationally: campaigns have already been launched in Mexico and Thailand. The latest iteration is in Mexico, where the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) has developed the “Elige el Original” (“choose the original”) campaign. It presents a new mascot designed to better appeal to Mexican children and teenagers: an Axolotl, or a Mexican salamander. And there are future plans to expand into other global markets.

By working together to reduce the scourge of counterfeits and raising awareness of the dangers and costs of buying counterfeits, we hope we can make a real difference in this effort. And we are always welcoming additional collaborators! Whether you’re a brand or running a startup, or just someone who wants to make a difference, join us and get involved by emailing [email protected] And if you think you’ve spotted a counterfeit, report it to help others buy smart and stay safe. Let’s all commit to “Go For Real.MT


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