UK Considers How to Tackle Trend of Social Media Influencers Promoting Counterfeit Products | Morgan Lewis – Tech & SourcingMay 14, 2022
Following the success of the previous blog post “A Brief Overview of the Metaverse and the Legal Challenges It Will Present,” we are introducing a new feature for the Tech & Sourcing blog: “Future Watch.” Our Future Watch posts will focus on the most topical areas of the technology industry and will explore the associated legal challenges and potential future developments.
In this first Future Watch post, we examine the world of social media influencers and counterfeit goods, and how the United Kingdom is potentially looking to address this issue.
The United Kingdom’s intellectual property laws provide to rights owners important protections, which encourage creativity and drives the free market economy. However, changing attitudes around counterfeits, the growth of the digital economy, and the continued influence of social media have culminated in ever-increasing violations of such rights, potentially resulting in direct harm to the market, stalled development, and the undermining of public welfare. More recently, influencers have come under scrutiny for facilitating trade in counterfeit products.
Late last year, the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) published a report on the outcome of a pilot study it commissioned to investigate the impact that influencers have on the consumption of counterfeit products. The research was carried out by the University of Portsmouth and involved an anonymous online survey of 1,000 female participants in the United Kingdom. The focus on female participants is in response to existing data suggesting that influencer marketing of counterfeit products was “highly gendered” and dominated by female influencers and female consumers.
The study used the following definition of “counterfeit products” to guide participants: “Counterfeits are items that look identical to a genuine product with or without the official branding/logo, but are not made by the brand and may be of lower quality, for example, a handbag of identical design to a “Chanel” with or without the Chanel logo.”
The study also asked participants “whether they had purchased counterfeit products in the prior year as a result of Influencer endorsements.” Some of the key findings include the following:
- 13.3% of the participants reported that they had purchased counterfeits either deliberately or by mistake following influencer endorsements.
- 17% of participants have knowingly purchased a counterfeit.
- 70% of those who have knowingly purchased a counterfeit are between the ages 16 to 33.
- 20% of knowing buyers are habitual buyers.
- Fashion, accessories, jewellery, and beauty products are the most popular counterfeit product categories.
The study identified the following four factors among participants, which, when combined, “are a noxious mix” that increases the prospects of counterfeit purchasing:
- Susceptibility to the influence of trusted others
- Reduced likelihood of…