Global Intellectual Property Center

Online Piracy and Counterfeiting Overview

Online Piracy and Counterfeiting Overview

In 1993, a now famous New Yorker cartoon laughed at anonymity and the Web in its caption, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” Never has that observation been truer than today when it comes to the buying and selling of online goods. Unlike the physical world where shady street corner vendors offering obviously “knocked-off” handbags and other items are easily identified,it is difficult to discern legitimate sellers from illegitimate ones online. Part of the problem is that the market for counterfeit and pirated goods encompasses a wide variety of both physical and digital items. And as the Internet becomes more pervasive, the risk of accidental and intentional consumption of counterfeit and pirated goods increases, attracting more thieves and other opportunists, and escalating the collateral danger to consumers.