Student view:

Emily Osika: Combating counterfeits

Nov. 13, 2019

Emily Osika is a senior majoring in international relations and minoring in political economy in the James Madison College. Osika is the first recipient of the Matthew Ronald Maher Scholarship, which honors students whose impactful research contributes to the Center for Anti-Counterfeiing and Product Protection.

The summer before my sophomore year at MSU, I applied to the Center of Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection as my first internship experience. A-CAPP is an independent research, outreach and education-based center focused on informing brand professionals worldwide about issues related to counterfeiting and its impacts.

Counterfeits are prevalent in our markets and are harmful to society. Counterfeit pharmeuticals have the potential of making people not only sick, but may cause death in some cases. Also, the inability to recognize counterfeit products, especially if bought online, is a challenge because these products look so similar to the authentic ones. Consumers may not even realize they purchased a fake good.

I applied to become an intern because I had limited knowledge of the counterfeiting world in general and wanted to further explore a realm of criminal activity that appears to be harmless, yet produces numerous consequences to consumers, brand owners and enforcement officials. In a short period of time, I found myself fascinated by issues surrounding intellectual property and interested in understanding more about its impact on the international community.

After interning for a year and exploring different counterfeit schemes, I found myself drawn particularly into how the various ways international actors enforce this criminal activity, and the resulting consequences for the rest of the global marketplace. For example, a large amount of counterfeits bought in the United States are produced in China and sold to consumers in the U.S.; therefore, there is a direct link between these two nations and enforcement to prevent counterfeit operations must occur on both ends.

Through this interest and my studies in international affairs, I was especially intrigued by how the global community responds to this international criminal activity. My research analyzes the role of international cooperation and its effects on trademark enforcement in the global market.

Trademark infringement — a violation of a brand’s registered trademark — is a rising global concern.

I focused on how various international organizations, like the World Trade Organization, and countries such as the U.S., China and Brazil, broaden trademark enforcement through joint operations and information sharing capabilities. China was key to include since they are the main producer of counterfeits worldwide, as well as a large economic power in general.

My research concluded that if countries are more engaged and cooopertive toward joint issues, it would create an atmosphere of more effective enforcement that would benefit the world community as a whole. I would like to further explore how counterfeits are viewed in Chinese society in attempts to understand to what extent culture plays a role in the consumption of counterfeits within society.