Category Archives: Blogs

BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU WARNS: COUNTERFEIT COUPONS

The Better Busines Bureau (BBB) has issued a consumer alert to warn consumers about counterfeit coupons. Counterfeit coupons, along with counterfeit tickets, are not new but in an insidious twist counterfeiters are using counterfeit coupons to steal personal information.

The fakes are often found on Facebook and are used to steal your identity and/or download malware. Among the most frequently distributed fake coupons are: Bath & Body Works, Costco, Aldi, Starbucks, Trade Joe’s. The coupons offer a bonus and free merchandise for sharing the link on social media. The link takes the consumer to a third-party website that asks for personal information to get the coupon while downloading viruses or malware.

COUNTERFEIT N95 MASKS

On Monday, May 5 Inside Edition ran a short piece on counterfeit N95 masks. It was an undercover sting of a guy with a van in New York City calling the few shops that are open and offering to sell them N95 masks in bulk. Part of the pitch is that the masks were ‘manufactured in China.’ The news reporter for Inside Edition working with a camera crew in a van called the vendor and when he arrived spooked him by questioning him about the masks while filming him.

It wasn’t much of a story, however, Inside Edition, ran a much better story that is available on YouTube: “Coronavirus Crackdowns: Authorities Seize Masks, Fake Tests,” dated March 19, 2020, about authorities in Europe policing the underground market for N95 masks. The second part of the story deals with fake Coronavirus test kits.

 

 

 

Fake COVID-19 Test Kits

Hardly a surprise that the Corona virus has provided an opportunity for unscrupulous fakes. On April 2nd, the Michigan Attorney General notified two business registered in Nevada and operating in Beverly Hills, CA to stop selling fake at-home COVID-19 kits.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has seized two shipments to date. The first on March 20th, CBP officers at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) examined a parcel identified as ‘Purified Water Vials’ with a declared value of $196.81. It contained vials filled with a white liquid labeled ‘Corona Virus 2019’ and ‘Virus 1 Test Kit’. There were enough vials for over a hundred test kits. The next day, CBP officers at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport seized counterfeit test kits for COVID-19 and other illness, including meningitis, that came from the United Kingdom

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to the public that the Covid-19 test kits are not available to the public but only to authorized medical staff. The Chinese government has had a problem with counterfeiters selling COVID-19 test kits and has taken quick action to stem the problem.

Dark Horse copyright suit (Rapper Marcus Gray vs. Katy Perry)

Rapper Marcus Gray a/k/a Flame has won a $2.8 million copyright infringement suit against Katy Perry claiming her 2013 song Dark Horse, which held the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s hot 100 chart for four weeks in 2014, infringed his 2009 song Joyful Noise. The basis for the suit is that Gray’s song was widely disseminated, a principle that is referred to as ‘access,’ on YouTube and Spotify.

The jury reached a unanimous decision and determined that 22.5% of the profits from Dark Horse were owed to Joyful Noise. The pop star, through her attorneys, plans to appeal the verdict. Her attorneys had argued that the portion in question was too brief to be protected by copyright and brings up the larger question of ‘access.’

George Harrison is another of several Pop stars who have been sued for copyright infringement. Harrison was found to have copied parts of an earlier song (My Sweet Lord infringed He’s So Fine by the Chiffons).

New Trend in Film Piracy: Movies that are ‘Defeminized’ and have ‘LGBT” scenes removed

A pirated version of the popular movie Avengers: Endgame recently appeared on illegal streaming sites that had feminist and gay scenes and dialogue removed. To cite a few: male heroes hugging, a key scene in which a male character is teaching his daughter to shoot a bow and arrow.

Since the work was pirated, the author’s identity is unknown. However, another ‘sanitized’ film that appeared a year ago was Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017). Approximately thirty percent of the movie’s content showing women making decisions, giving orders and fighting in battle was deleted. For example, scenes with Leia yelling at Poe were removed.

The anonymous Star Wars editor/censor left comments and called his work: “De-feminized fanedit” or “The Chauvinist Cut.” Viewers were outraged and blasted the ‘sanitized version’ in editorials and blog posts. Rightfully so. Besides the obvious reason, there was no story after so much of the original was deleted.

Was this the work of one person or part of a trend? And will more ‘sanitized’ pirate movie versions appear? Stay tuned. . .

World Anti-Counterfeiting Day

World Anti-Counterfeiting Day, now in its twentieth year, was held on June 6th by the Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group (GACG) with a goal to sharing best practices and information among its network of national and regional IPR enforcement and protection organizations that cover more than fifty countries. Among GACG’s members are: the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC) representing the United States; the Finnish Anti-Counterfeiting Group; and France’s Union De Fabricants.

One member, the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO, marked the occasion by releasing a report:  “2019 Status Reports on IPR Infringement.”  The document estimates the international trade in fake products at 121 billion Euros a year [roughly $136 billion] with a loss of 468,000 jobs.

Through its Observatory and its international associates, EUIPO is now funding a specialized crime unit within the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) to help tackle the counterfeiting problem.

McDONALD’S LOSES ‘BIG MAC’ TRADEMARK IN THE EU

In a European union case ruling, McDonald’s Corp has lost its rights to the trademark “Big Mac” in favor of the Ireland-based fast-food chain Supermac’s.

Supermac said it had never had a product called “Big Mac,” suggesting McDonald’s had used the similarity of the two names to block the Irish chain’s expansion.

Supermac’s, revoked McDonald’s registration of the trademark, saying that the world’s largest fast-food chain had not proven genuine use of it over the five years prior to the case being lodged in 2017. The ruling allows other companies as well as McDonald’s to use the “Big Mac” name in the EU.

Supermac was founded by Pat McDonagh who earned the nickname Supermac as an Irish teenager in the late 1960s when he guided his school to a football victory over St. Gerald’s, a more fancied team. He opened the first Supermac in Ballinasloe, a town in county Galway, in 1978. The company now has 106 outlets across Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Operation Pangea XI Targets Online Rogue Pharmacies

Operation Pangea is a yearly operation involving many countries and law enforcement agencies which cooperate in a one week operation targeting online rogue pharmacies.

From October 9-16, 116 countries combined forces to combat the problem of online rogue pharmacies in Operation Pangea XI. The results were staggering and include: 859 arrests and the seizure of 500 tons of illicit pharmaceuticals worth an estimated $14 million. The pharmaceuticals included: anti-inflammatory medication, painkillers, slimming pills and medicines for HIV, Parkinson’s, erectile dysfunction, anabolic steroids and diabetes.

More than 110,000 medical devices including syringes, contact lenses, hearing aids and surgical instruments were seized. Also seized were counterfeit medical devices included 737 expired cardiac surgery instruments smuggled into the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI) special agents initiated several criminal investigations and took down more than 450 domain names including http://www.nextdaypills.com, http:www.top-meds-discounts.com and http://www.bestgenericstores.com. In all, 3,671 web links were closed down including websites, social media pages and online marketplaces.