With their season as good as gone, the SP Hunters have another battle to fight – fake hoodies!
It’s a fight they should be familiar with now and it’s one that’s not going away any time soon.
A business entity that goes by the name “Ball All Star” has been running Facebook advertising campaigns through “sponsored” postings of a range of branded merchandise. One of these, happens to be SP Hunters branded hoodies – see the image above.
The designs look attractive – but that’s not the issue.
In the case of SP Hunters, we made them aware of the advertisement being run and asked them whether they had granted authority to “Ball All Star” for the use of the “Hunters” logo which is their registered trademark and the response from the Hunters was-
Thanks heaps for the spot! We aren’t aware of this so we will look into it
Tackling counterfeits is not new to the Hunters. In fact, this is an issue they’ve faced since their inaugural year when several Chinese shops were raided by Police for selling fake Hunters jerseys.
Likewise, its major sponsor, SP Brewery, has faced similar issues most recently on counterfeit SP Beer cans.
Getting back to “Ball All Star”, a review of their website should raise some questions and some of these which are noted below should alert you that the products may not be genuine but fake products.
Firstly, the business doesn’t show its physical location on its website. A click to the “Contact” page will show you a form to complete. While there is nothing wrong with the form itself, one would expect a physical location of the business, particularly of an organization selling products with brands that are popular in the region.
Secondly, there isn’t an “About Us” page on the website. Again, an “About Us” page shows credibility and if no information is shown on the website, would you consider entering into a business transaction offline with an entity that hides its identity?
Thirdly, a click to some of the product pages aren’t working which should raise alarm bells.
Fourthly, and as strange as it may sound, the site has a page dedicated to making a claim on infringement of intellectual property rights. Quite simply, the site is aware that there is an infringement, it just makes itself out to be that it isn’t aware of any infringement and possibly a reason for an excuse should an infringement claim or action be taken against itself.
Perhaps the most concerning is the number of interest the products have attracted Papua New Guineans some of whom have made enquiries to purchase products which infringe the rights of intellectual property rights owners. IN the case of a Manly hoodie, some of the responses from Papua New Guineans are as follows:
Intellectual property lawyer, Mea Vai of Vai IP says that the number of people interested in these fake products isn’t surprising. Vai says that online entrepreneurs are targeting the Papua New Guinea audience because of their support for the SP Hunters and NRL.
Our passion for rugby league and the fact that many social media users have little knowledge or awareness on counterfeits makes us more vulnerable. It is this vulnerability that sellers of fake products take advantage of to make money from us. Added to this is the fact that online advertising is so effective in targeting campaigns, entrepreneurs can reach their intended audience easily. And the sad thing is, if we continue to fall for it, they’re going to keep on selling it to us.
Awareness on counterfeit products is so important Vai stresses. And it’s all the more important given the huge drop in internet rates where prices have been slashed by more than 50%.
There will be a rise in new users and of course a significant increase in online activity, particularly social media. With this rise, we can expect sellers of fake products to flood our newsfeeds with their advertising. Awareness is so important not only in terms of education but also reporting on situations where you suspect a product might be fake. For example, in the case where Skerah became aware of a potential infringement of the SP Hunters logo on the hoodies, it reported it to Hunters and hopefully Hunters take action. They can deal with the infringer direct but it’s also equally important to make a public announcement about the alleged infringement.
The issue of intellectual property rights is so important in PNG. The exposure of PNG’s unique traditions, designs, are and music is a positive for the rights owners. But these rights come with responsibilities and risks. You can do your part in educating your wantoks on counterfeits, refraining from purchasing fake products and also reporting on situations you suspect of an infringement.