Students from Dallas high schools came to the International Trademark Association’s annual meeting to learn more about anti-counterfeiting.
Around 100 students, drawn from three high schools, listened to Heather McDonald of law firm Baker Hostelter talk about INTA’s Unreal Campaign, which aims to tackle counterfeiting by educating young people about its pitfalls. She introduced the concepts of trademarks and counterfeiting to the students, and presented them with facts about the level and impact of counterfeiting.
McDonald was followed by John McNair from the National IPR Center in the Department of Homeland Security, who cited examples of counterfeiting ranging from missile systems to circuit boards in order to demonstrate the reach of the problem.
The students were able to quiz McNair about his work, which they did with gusto. McNair told WIPR that he felt the students had engaged well with the subject, and had learnt that the authorities are not “just protecting luxury brands – there’s a reason for doing it.”
The students too seemed to enjoy the event. Speaking to WIPR before embarking on an anti-counterfeiting scavenger hunt, Andrea, a student from Sunset High School, said that while she had some basic knowledge of the issues around counterfeiting before the event, she “didn’t know how much it costs the US and the real dangers of it.”
She thought the campaign “will definitely change people’s knowledge of who it effects and what it effects.”
Itzel, a student at JBS Law Magnet, said that “a lot of people don’t care [about counterfeiting], and think it just means a cheaper version.” She hasn’t knowingly bought counterfeit goods in the past, because “you can tell”, but she acknowledged that they are easy to find at flea markets.
“I definitely think [the campaign] is a better way to approach the problem,” she said. “Young people have better access to the Internet, Facebook and Twitter, and they can get the message out.”
Several students underlined the lack of awareness of counterfeiting among young people. Kiara, from De Soto High School, said she “was under the misconception that [anti-counterfeiting] was only related to apparel,” and hadn’t known that even institutions like NASA have had to deal with counterfeiting in the past.
She said the campaign was a “pretty good way” of dealing with the problem, and that the event “opens you up to the potential dangers associated with counterfeiting,” such as profits being diverted to organised crime.
Seneca, also studying at JBS Law Magnet, knew before the event that counterfeiting causes brands to lose money, and that it was “unethical,” but was interested to learn how the different bits of government work together to tackle the problem.
He said that the campaign was a good idea, but “more can be done to [tackle] the abuses.” Seneca suggested that celebrities and musicians would be perfect to promote anti-counterfeiting and piracy messages to young people.
INTA’s Unreal Campaign has been running for a year, in which time school children in more than 40 US cities have been reached. There are plans to expand the campaign to other countries in the coming year.
INTA 2013, Unreal Campaign, annual meeting