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Cautious Shoppers Need not Fall Victim to Olympics Scams

05-Feb-2014 | Source : AG-IP News | Visits : 5613
NEW YORK, NY - Thousands of fans traveling to the Olympic Games and millions more watching around the world will purchase Olympics merchandise to support the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Much of that spending will take place online, and the International Trademark Association (INTA) wants fans to shop safely and confidently as they support their teams and enjoy the festive occasion. A cautious Internet shopper need not fall victim to cybercrime, according to the Assocaition.

“As fans prepare for one of the biggest global sporting events, they face a new wave of technological crimes that steal the trust consumers place in the iconic Olympics brand,” says INTA President Mei-lan Stark. “Online criminals may try to use the popular Olympics trademarks—including the famous interlocking rings logo—to sell counterfeit goods, steal consumers’ personal identifying information and access their bank accounts. Olympics fans must pay careful attention to the websites they visit, especially e-commerce sites where they must input their personal information.”

During the 2012 Summer Games in London, an Olympics megastore close to the stadium sold everything from board games and vases to tracksuits and baby clothing. It even stocked a reissue of British gold medalist Daley Thompson's 1984 Los Angeles Olympics tracksuit top, framed and autographed, on sale for £1,999. Counterfeiters, aware of the size of this market, either sell fake merchandise or otherwise illegally use the Olympics’ name and logo to divert web traffic and lure consumers into fraudulent schemes. “Online criminals are deceiving consumers and undermining the very important role that trademarks play in the marketplace,” says Ms. Stark.

As explained in Brands – Reputation and Image in the Global Marketplace, a report recently published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), trademarks are designed to allow consumers to shop with confidence. When consumers choose to buy Olympics merchandise, they rely on its trademarks to be certain they are buying quality products. Consumers also expect that when they buy branded merchandise that they are being treated fairly and that their personal information is being kept confidential.

Criminals disrupt this process by stealing trademarks and deceiving consumers. In 2012, the London Organizing Committee reported a significant number of seizures of counterfeit merchandise. Counterfeiting impacts the organizers’ ability to raise funds to stage the Olympics, and the fake goods are of inferior quality and do not meet the strict safety standards required of official products.

To protect themselves while shopping online, Olympics fans should:

1. Buy only from authorized retailers. The official website of the Olympic Movement, olympic.org, and the official website of the Sochi games, sochi2014.com, both have online stores.

2. Never open or respond to unsolicited emails that request passwords or other sensitive personal data.

3. Be cautious of items with prices that are uncharacteristically low.

4. Only make secure transactions. When shopping online, make payments only on websites with a URL beginning with “https://”. The “s” stands for secure.

The International Trademark Association (INTA) is a global association of trademark owners and professionals dedicated to supporting trademarks and related intellectual property in order to protect consumers and to promote fair and effective commerce. Members include more than 6,400 trademark owners, professionals and academics from more than 190 countries, who benefit from the Association’s global trademark research, policy development, education and training, and international network. Founded in 1878, INTA is headquartered in New York City, with offices in Shanghai, Brussels and Washington, D.C., and representatives in Geneva and Mumbai.
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