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Smart Buyer Tips The Official Sitejabber Blog

Google & Facebook Forced to Remove Counterfeit Sites, But Does It Help Consumers?

By Andrew Grossman13 comments

Counterfeit goods are the scourge of many an online shopper. Short of waiting in line at the DMV, few things are more frustrating than believing you’ve stumbled upon that rare discontinued handbag or an amazing bargain on a set of Titleist irons, only to discover you’ve been duped by a counterfeiter who has made off with your money and left you holding the [crummy] bag. Sites selling counterfeits easily number in the hundreds of thousands, and new ones crop up every day.

Enter the well-intentioned and verbosely-named U.S. Government task force: National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center). The IPR Center jointly runs something called, “Operation In Our Sites“, which according to its releases, “…specifically targets websites and their operators that distribute counterfeit and pirated items over the Internet, including counterfeit pharmaceuticals and pirated movies, television shows, music, software, electronics and other merchandise, as well as products that threaten public health and safety.”  As a note to consumers, and perhaps a warning to other would-be counterfeiters, the seized sites now redirect to an unfriendly looking site with information about the federal action.

U.S. District Court decisions  have also attempted to address the online counterfeiting problem. An aggressive player has been luxury fashion house Chanel. Chanel has taken its battle against counterfeiters to the courts and has been trying to get the websites of counterfeiters shut down. In a recent U.S. District Court lawsuit, the state of Nevada issued a court order in favor of Chanel, and the domains in question have been shut down. The Nevada court ruling also ordered social media websites and Internet search engines (e.g., Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, and Bing) to “de-index and/or remove [the domain names] and remove the 200+  sites from search results.” The court orders have generated a lot of thought-provoking buzz regarding the freedom of the internet. Regardless of the good intentions behind the ruling and government actions, for some, having their internet search results being partially controlled by the government is both Orwellian and unsettling.

While Sitejabber strongly supports protecting consumers from counterfeiters, we question whether our legal system will really be able to help. After all, the parties doing the counterfeiting are often left intact, since they are frequently based in other countries where U.S. intellectual property laws are difficult or impossible to enforce. Counterfeiters who lose a domain can often simply register a new one (sometimes this is done by the thousands) to hawk their fake goods. And inevitably, these new sites will make their way back into Google search results and consumers in the U.S. and elsewhere will again be harmed.  Our legal system and courts should not be faulted for trying to stop counterfeiters, but in the near-term it is a Sisyphean task to put them out of business one website at a time. Myriad phony Chanel sites still exist. For the foreseeable future, as a matter of protection, consumers need to arm themselves with better information, as it appears to be the only real protection. Website reviews are not the worst place to start.


13 Responses to “Google & Facebook Forced to Remove Counterfeit Sites, But Does It Help Consumers?”
  1. Jimmy Klein says:

    I’m willing to bet that the stuff in a spray can that you can buy from a home depot or any other auto supply (the stuff that they spray in the bed of a truck will work just as well.) I’m going to try it…JK

  2. bora says: online shopping site is fraud, scams
    Hi all, I have bought an item and paid with Paypal, but i didn’t received it.

  3. Jan says:

    Google could be more proactive and i.e. scan results against the MyWot or SiteAdvisor. If you search for i.e. ‘Cheap Vuitton’ 50 of the first 100 hits are Chinese Scam sites, and the rest sites with Chinese comment spam to pump up the google ranking.

    • Marianne says:

      I really can’t believe that jan would automatically think it’s the chinese who have scam websites, or that the chinese pump up the ratings for google, this is a horrible remark. I personally don’t think you can apply any scam websites to a particular race, it takes only bad people to put a scam out there & with my experience with a few chinese friends & these people would never scam anybody, so to say it is mainly chinese that scam people or that the 1st 100 sites on google are chinese scams is ridiculous, another example> I have bought alot of items from ebay that I can promise you the best products were from China or Japan, always very helpful in any question I had on the product before purchase. Hint if you feel this way about Google why don’t you switch your search engine~I use Bing & Google, if you feel a website needs further investigation than come back here to find this out, but please Jan don’t ASSUME that every scam is from chinese!

      • The Dude says:

        Sorry, but you’re wrong. I work in this business, and I can tell you, without a doubt, that all the counterfeit/scam websites are Chinese.

      • ceidou says:

        that is where counterfeits stuff are made, and that is where most stuff are made too.
        the chinese are big on making counterfeit products, it is a fact, but of course all nations sell them.
        ever seen an open factory of counterfeit bags in europe? no.
        go to china and you will see these factories everywhere

  4. carymcdonald says:

    There are MORE issues here; it takes two to tango: those who sell, and those who buy.
    Those who are happy to buy ‘fakes or forgeries’ knowingly; and those who believe they are buying ‘the real deal’; but are buying the former. In both cases, the ‘fake’ my be identical, superior, or inferior to the ‘real deal.’
    This makes for FOUR different legal/moral issues, but two are easily distinguished: 1) ripping-off the OEM, whose name is misused; and 2) the ripping-off the buyer, with an inferior and/or unsupported product.
    This goes on ALL the time on E-Bay and Craigslist with the items known as ‘White van’ speakers. (Wiki: White Van Speakers for details), and is actually better addressed on CL than on E-Bay, as readers on CL can easily flag sellers of Pseudo-speakers.
    If E-Bay cannot control fraud well, how do you expect the ‘uncontrolled’ sites that take no profit (from fraud) to control it?

  5. James says:

    Each time the government tries to solve a problem it usually makes it worse. See war on drugs, war on poverty, war on pollution. Now the government attempts to save us from fake goods sold on the Internet. The result will be that the bad guys are left unharmed while decent shops loose business. Thank you Dear Government

    • Rodrian Roadeye says:

      Right on. The road to hell is paved with good intentions as always, but I am grateful for everyone helped who truly needs it. Just wish that more could be done to catch those who abuse the system, and like Medicare, especially repeat offenders.

  6. islandtech says:

    facebook needs to do some more research before allowing those sites to be bundled on their website, those sites ask for your personal info they redirect you to sites that are infected with key logging & spyware.
    those sites crash your browser at times there security certificates are not even valid, facebook is a well loved social site but it needs to be prudent with its operations.

    island tech
    Commonwealth of Dominica

    • Marianne says:

      Islandtech, most of the websites listed on facebook come from users of FB themselves by going to a site & logging on from FB or giving a post. On most websites now they have the FB, Twitter, Google+1 & other social site buttons to post the website your originally on to those social sites, so how can facebook, google or any other website keep their sites safe when its the users themselves who post alot of sites to their public news-feeds. I know they (FB, etc.) should regulate the websites that they apply themselves to their own sites but personally I think the government is fighting a losing battle when it comes to fraud, scams or any other bad thing out there, if someone wants to apply it to the internet they will, it’s a simple fact, they just have people who will do whatever they want, whenever they want to whomever they want.

      • islandtech says:

        Marianne i was saying that facebook should do a little research before allowing other websites to be attached to them, facebook has electronic responsibility to ensure that there sites are with in regulations say for example some one decides to attach a child porn site link to facebook, facebook should not investigate this & stop it because its a user? all people that are using the world wide web has to take responsibility to ensure that their sites are not out of regulations, for example you own a web site some places a link on your site advertising crack cocaine you the website owner knows this an illegal substance, you will not take the link off? Facebook is a well loved social site as i said it should be more prudent with its electronic operations to avoid future problems with its business operations.

  7. Mark Noo says:

    Do these people have an email address we can send sites we think are illicit to.
    Is the reason I’ve never heard of them that they don’t want to do anything.
    Why would they look for this stuff themselves when they can get tips from upset buyers for free.

    Why does no one know they exist.

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