Since counterfeiters went online, fighting counterfeiting has become more difficult. Laws that were enacted to address counterfeiting in the brick-and-mortar world (where stores and warehouses can be raided, counterfeits seized, and counterfeiters arrested) do not work well in the electronic, borderless, anonymous world of the Internet. There are several ways to mask the identity of people or companies operating a Web site. If they are located and a judgment is obtained against them in court, enforcement of that judgment in the countries where they are located may be difficult or impossible. Even if one Web site is successfully shut down, others are likely to pop up—the fight is reminiscent of the fairground game Whac-a-Mole.Although attacking online counterfeiters is difficult (at least until better enforcement tools are provided), there are some steps that pharmaceutical companies can take. For instance, companies can use a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution action to obtain a counterfeiting Web site's domain name if it contains the company's trademark. This action, if successful, will stop the counterfeiter from operating that site, but it will not stop the counterfeiter from operating another site that does not contain the company's trademark. Companies may also contact the Web site's host or the Web site registrar to take down the counterfeiter's site or disable the counterfeiter's domain name, respectively. Some hosts and registrars will cooperate, while others will require a court order.
But pharma companies should make sure they focus on internal measures as well. Some steps to consider include:
•securing the supply chain of products, including audits of wholesalers and use of track-and-trace technology
•using overt/covert technology features on products and packaging to help authenticate products
•deterring counterfeiters through targeted investigations and working with law-enforcement agencies on raids, arrests, and criminal prosecutions
•filing civil actions against select targets to obtain injunctions and impose financial penalties
•monitoring the Internet to try to disrupt online sales
•recording trademarks with customs to encourage seizures of counterfeits as they cross national borders