Global Intellectual Property Center

IP Delivers Summer Safety

IP Delivers Summer Safety

Applying Sunscreen© PhotoEuphoria / iStock Photo

By Aaron Smethurst

How do you love to spend your summer days? If you’re anything like the IP Delivers team, you might enjoy a day with your toes in the sand, hanging by the pool, or breaking in those hiking boots on a new trail. But have you ever stopped to consider that the products that help protect you on those long summer days could be a dangerous counterfeit?

Take your sunscreen, for example, a must-have for most to enjoy a day at the beach or relax by the pool. While sunscreen is designed to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays, a counterfeit sunscreen – perhaps purchased from an online pharmacy – could do just the opposite. The illicit “lotion,” which improperly uses the trademarks of safe and trusted brands, could fail to provide any protection at all or even contain dangerous chemicals that are harmful to your skin. As the Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money correspondent noted, consumers are actually getting burned twice.

Or what about those styling sunglasses protecting your eyes from the sun’s glare? While you may have found them for a steal online or from a corner vendor, illicit shades may provide no actual protection from the sun and are frequently poorly manufactured, putting you at risk to shatter the lenses shielding those baby blues.

And counterfeit products may be more pervasive than you think. Cross-border trade in physical counterfeits costs the global economy $250 billion annually. And while these products designed to keep you safe from too much sun may seem like a real deal from an online retailer, keep in mind that 96% of all online pharmacies are operating illegally. These seemingly legitimate online stores are exposing the public to even more serious types of perilous fakes, like tainted cough syrups or insufficient cancer medications.

Enter intellectual property (IP). While IP is important to businesses in building brand confidence, maintaining the integrity of trademarks is also an important tool for consumers in their ability to identify trusted brands. Having proper IP protections and enforcement mechanisms in place both online and in the physical world is essential to keeping these counterfeit goods out of the marketplace as well as out of the hands – or in this case, the skin – of unsuspecting consumers.

To learn more about protecting yourself against counterfeits, visit the GIPC’s Dangerous Fakes site. Because the only thing that should be medium rare is a fine summer steak – not your skin.