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Datamyne Resource Center

Covering trade & transport, with tips on using import-export data to advantage

Pattern of Deceit: How Trade Data Can Track Counterfeiting

Category: Data Applications

Trade data can track counterfeiting schemes as well as legitimate buying and selling in the global market place.

Attorney Carlos Rodriguez, a partner at Husch Blackwell LLP, describes how in a white paper on a current “Paradigm Shift in Anti-Counterfeiting Strategies.”

As Rodriguez documents, brand owners are shifting the focus of their investigations into counterfeiting to the intermediaries who handle the transport of phony products. The new focus has led to Department of Justice indictments of large air courier companies for their part in distributing controlled substances and illicit prescription drugs for internet pharmacies. Ocean transport intermediaries – OTIs, including non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs) – are also coming under more intense scrutiny.

One tool for brand owners conducting these investigations – and for OTIs mitigating their exposure – is the data gleaned from bills of lading that document US import shipments.

According to Rodriguez, counterfeiting schemes generally involve moving fake goods under cover of stolen identities not once, but several times.

In describing how trade data can track counterfeiting, he notes that imports are documented by two types of bills: the Master bill issued by the vessel operator, and the House bill issued by the NVOCC or freight forwarder to the individual shippers who are its clients. It is the House bill that carries the details that can establish the shippers and importers whose identities have been stolen and used in the counterfeit transactions. Other transaction details on the House bill can be used to gauge the scale and duration of a counterfeiting scheme, useful for investigation and potential subsequent litigation.

Rodriguez’s firm, Husch Blackwell, has worked with Datamyne, whose online data access platform enables researchers to distinguish between Master and House bills and retrieve records of shipments with key similarities to the counterfeit shipments. For example, using the parties named in a US Customs Notice of Seizure – shipper, consignee, notify party, or NVOCC – a researcher can retrieve all House bills that carry one or more of these names, filtering results by timeframe, geography, cargo description, or other criteria.

These records yield the details of cargo sizes, points and times of departure and arrival, as well as the parties to each transaction that, taken together, can trace the history of a scam, or establish a pattern of counterfeiting activity, or the extent of damage sustained by the brand owner.

You can download the white paper Paradigm Shift in Anti-Counterfeiting Strategies here.

How trade data can track counterfeiting

Date posted: January 8, 2016


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