“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” however, when it comes to knock-off products, there are many dangers that overshadow the admiration, and the intentions are not selfless.  In the world of counterfeit items, no industry is immune to the acts of those infringing upon well-trusted brands.  The most recent discovery and seizure of fakes involved golfing equipment.   On June 2, a series of three raids seized over 9,769 pieces of clubs and components as well as 10,600 pieces of trademark labels bearing the names of XXIO, Titleist, TaylorMade, PXG, Callaway and PING.  The U.S Golf Manufacturing Anti-Counterfeiting Working Group was the force behind these recent confiscations.  In 2004, to counteract the ever-growing proliferation of counterfeits, Acushnet, Callaway-Odyssey, Srixon, Ping, PXG and TaylorMade came together to form this group to identify and eliminate fake club operations across the world. Before June, the golf anti-counterfeiting group had been responsible for the shutdown of more than 1,500 websites and more than two million counterfeit golf products.  

The Dangers Of Counterfeit Goods

Counterfeit goods may look identical to the genuine product but can be risky.  A fake product might contain toxic chemicals, be poorly made or have a safety defect – they use cheap, substandard and dangerous elements.  “Counterfeiters have grown bolder with time, continuing to blur the line between the legitimate and the counterfeit,” says Charles R. Taylor, a former U.S. prosecutor and a professor at Georgetown University.  Sporting equipment is a strictly regulated industry, and fake products have been a significant problem for sports enthusiasts for many years.

Organized networks of bad actors have created fake websites, mobile apps, ads, and social profiles, giving rise to even more counterfeits, imposters, and scams.  The global black market lures unsuspecting consumers away from the brands they trust.  The anonymity of the internet gives these criminals the advantage of hiding behind sites using fake trademarks, brands, and false certification labels, leading shoppers into thinking they are buying genuine, safe products.

Concerning golf equipment, here are some tips on spotting the fakes that are currently in the marketplace:

  1. Scotty Cameron putters: imposters have shoddy paint jobs and poor engraving.
  2. Callaway drivers: counterfeits have different screws used to connect the shaft and the head.
  3. PING drivers: the colors on the shaft and clubhead do not match on the fakes.

To help identify fakes, the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition recommends following the “3Ps” rules:  Price, Packaging, Place.

  • If the price is too good to be true, then it is most likely a counterfeit.
  • Products that are shipped without packaging, packaged poorly, or if the packaging contains misspellings, blurry logos, or smudged ink are clues toward counterfeit.
  • Check the place (site) you are visiting. Make sure it is a secure site (https), fact-check the endorsements, and ensure there is an acceptable return policy.

The IP attorneys at Ference and Associates have helped companies worldwide defend their assets and rights against counterfeiters. Call the Ference team to discuss your brand protection needs at 412-741-8400.

 

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Ference & Associates is a Pittsburgh, PA based law firm with a global client base. Our attorneys focus on patent, trademark, and copyright law.

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