IPR Center Looks to Provide Information for Consumers in Revealing New Website Design Featuring its ‘Powerhouse of Partnerships’

Jim Mancuso
Director, National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center

The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) is gearing up for the new year with a new look on its website that will put consumers a mouse click away from important health and safety information designed to help avoid the dangers of intellectual property rights and trade law violations. The goal of the website re-design is to inform and educate the public about the global reach of the IPR Center and its vast collaboration with more than 30 domestic and international partners representing business, industry, law enforcement and academia. To achieve this goal, we support these partnerships with an outreach and training program to promote a better understanding of the adverse impact of counterfeits, and the harm they can cause to those who purchase them. By making the website more user-friendly, the IPR Center hopes consumers will take advantage of the many opportunities to not only learn more about how to protect themselves against counterfeits and the dangers they pose, but also how to work with business, industry, and law enforcement to address them.

Why Should Consumers Care about the IPR Center?

Here at the IPR Center, we promote active engagement with the public through our Outreach and Training Unit efforts, where health and safety remain among the top priorities in keeping the public informed of the dangers associated with counterfeit products and merchandise. Here are some examples of why it is important to avoid counterfeits.

Some counterfeit prescription drugs have no active ingredient. Other counterfeit prescription drugs have a dangerous level of active ingredients resulting in medical emergencies and accidental overdoses.

Some counterfeit cosmetics have been found to contain chemicals that are known to cause cancer, acne, eczema and other serious health issues. Various levels of urine and other dangerous substances have been found in others.  

Counterfeit lithium-ion laptop batteries can pose significant risk of extreme heat, self-ignition, and potential explosion.

Counterfeit bicycle helmets look good, but can easily break and fall apart, and counterfeit child safety seats do not undergo proper safety testing and certification.

In this post-pandemic era, our attention has shifted to intensify a closer look at how many of these fakes are being illegally marketed, sold, and distributed online. Our goal is to heighten public awareness and shift consumers away from potentially dangerous counterfeits to the safe purchase and use of legitimate merchandise.

Transforming a Website from ‘Ours’ to ‘Yours’

With nearly 202 million active websites (according to Forbes), we asked ourselves why would people visit ours, and what can we do to make it more meaningful for those who visit it?

For the past several months, our web development team has conducted a top-to-bottom assessment of the website and has carefully re-designed not only the look but also its functionality with an eye toward making it more consumer oriented, user friendly, and interactive. In the coming weeks, the public will be invited to a brand-new experience that will feature a landing page with resources for consumers, and another landing page that has resources for brand and rights holders.

In addition to basic information about our mission, our organization and leadership team, visitors to the website will find several new “tabs” that will take them to a variety of helpful tips, information, and resources, including:

  • Consumer Resources
  • Program Fact Sheets
  • Bulletins and Warnings
  • News Releases
  • Public Service Announcements
  • Guidance on New Reporting Procedures

With active links to more than 30 partners in both the public and private sectors, consumers will have an opportunity to access information on our programs and initiatives in a way that will generate even more interest and understanding. More specifically, consumers will be given a closer look at how we collaborate to develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions, and share information related to intellectual property (IP) theft. Consumers will also see how the IPR Center works to stop predatory, illegal trade practices that threaten the public’s health and safety, the U.S. economy and national security.

Another benefit of this website upgrade is a more “all-inclusive” approach allowing our partners to contribute important information about their work, and, more importantly, the forum it provides for brand protection professionals to merge their consumer audiences with ours. 

Research Helps Track What’s Trending on Our Path Forward

The 2023 Global Anti-Counterfeiting Consumer Survey recently released by MSU’s Center for Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection makes a compelling case for what are the driving issues involving counterfeits and trade law violations. The findings indicating a low percentage of tendencies to report IP theft are significant, given the apparent confusion over how and where to report them. For years, the IPR Center has displayed what has been commonly referred to as “the button,” that connects consumers to us, empowering consumers to report information on counterfeit goods. The online tool has appeared on dozens of business and industry websites signaling a public warning that these companies take the presence of counterfeit goods seriously.

Working with the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA), a non-profit organization focused on identifying, mitigating, and neutralizing cybercrime threats, the IPR Center is able to take advantage of a team of researchers representing law enforcement, business and academia when processing leads. As a result, leads are thoroughly examined using multiple data bases as part of a vetting process to determine the best way forward with partner agencies.

As we get closer to the official launch date, we will be releasing more details of the anticipated changes as part of our “Coming Attractions” promotional campaign. In the meantime, please feel free to log onto our website www.iprcenter.gov and sign up for the newsletter, IPRC Connections.

THE BRAND PROTECTION PROFESSIONAL | DECEMBER 2023 | VOLUME 8 NUMBER 4
2023 COPYRIGHT MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY BOARD OF TRUSTEES

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