The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency notes that, “The production and trafficking of counterfeit goods poses a significant health and safety threat to consumers”. Additionally, they point out the fact that counterfeit goods negatively impact the ability of legitimate businesses to experience economic growth due to, “lost revenue, downtime, and replacement costs”. Counterfeit products have also been linked to the operations of several global criminal networks as a source of revenue. To prevent these negative outcomes, several US departments and agencies work together to dismantle counterfeiting operations and seize counterfeit goods. This is true of Europe as well in which multiple agencies collaborate to stop counterfeit products from being able to reach the public.
Counterfeit goods are often sold on online marketplaces and platforms without the knowledge of the platform itself. This is because a marketplace or platform, will have a considerable number of products uploaded to it each day and humans cannot realistically evaluate each product listing to detect whether the product is legitimate or not. This would consume far too much time and require a great deal of labour and resources ultimately making the marketplace or platform unable to operate. As a result of this reality, many counterfeit products end up making their way onto legitimate marketplaces. Consumers may then purchase counterfeit products knowingly or unknowingly from these marketplaces which reinforces the incentive for counterfeiters to continue producing counterfeit goods.
VISUA and their computer vision solution for counterfeit goods
In order to be able to monitor all the goods which a platform or marketplace sells an AI solution is required. Computer vision which is also called Visual–AI is a field within artificial intelligence that allows computers to be able to process visual media and extract data from it which it can use for a number of applications. This is particularly useful in the field of counterfeit detection as an AI can process thousands of images in the time it would take a human to process one. As a result, computer vision, when combined with a platform’s other anti-counterfeit measures, allows an online platform or marketplace to detect more counterfeit goods and to do so more effectively and efficiently.
VISUA has developed its own Visual-AI which enables businesses to be able to conduct counterfeit detection with computer vision. Many counterfeit products will conceal their counterfeited nature through the use of product images that are very similar to that of the real product. This will mean that without close inspection a counterfeit product could be mistaken for a genuine product by consumers. This is particularly true of products that do not necessarily have a large public profile. Consumers may be unfamiliar with a brand and not realize that the low price point is in fact an indication of a counterfeit product.
Platforms and marketplaces bear the responsibility of ensuring that the products which they sell are genuine and computer vision is the best way of guaranteeing they are able to meet this responsibility. The computer vision which VISUA has developed was created with the specific purpose of being used by platforms and marketplaces. Their Visual-AI is both flexible and highly scalable which allows it to handle the wide range of requirements that different online platforms and marketplaces have. VISUA’s AI has also been designed to be integrated within a company’s existing framework for counterfeit detection.
The European Union has recently announced two new acts which impact online platforms and online marketplaces. The European Digital Services Act will require that companies actively monitor and moderate the content which they allow onto their platforms. Any business that wishes to trade in Europe will need to be compliant with this act and the Digital Markets Act by no later than January of 2024. The exact time for compliance will depend upon the size of a business and the reach that the business has.
Counterfeit goods are an ongoing problem for both law enforcement agencies and online platforms and marketplaces. The sheer volume of new products which are uploaded to platforms and marketplaces on a daily basis makes human evaluation of this content unrealistic and inefficient. Governments are now implementing legislation to ensure platforms take a more active and stringent role in blocking counterfeits from their platform. VISUA has created a Visual-AI solution to this problem that uses computer vision to detect counterfeit goods based on the image or images which accompany these products. This allows businesses to be able to keep counterfeit goods off of their platforms and marketplaces and ensure that none of their consumers will knowingly or unwittingly purchase counterfeit goods.