Posts Tagged ‘trademarks’

Tons of bad USB sticks out there – Like much in life, you get what you pay for!

February 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Lots of quality branded USB sticks are made in China these days. Nothing particularly wrong with that, except some factories like to rebrand rejects and they end up in the US and on Ebay. Often they will demand a better price by claiming they hold 16 or 32 GB when, in fact, they only old one.

Simply selling you bad chips at a discount isn’t enough for greedy con artists who can reap greater profits lying about how large the capacity is. They go the extra step of hacking the chips so they report a higher memory capacity than they really have. You plug it into the computer and Renewal By Andersen Windows reports that it holds the amount of data printed on the outside of the stick. A “16GB” drive will often hold only 2GB. You might think that you’d quickly notice once you try to add more than 2GB to the stick. But the hackers are cleverer than that. They need you to be happy with the flash drive long enough to get their positive eBay feedback or cash your cheque. What happens is that the files appear to go on just fine. But what is actually happening is that the older files are written over by the new ones while the file and folder names stay there, making it appear as if all is OK. You won’t find out until much later on.


Rich folks spending the big bucks on counterfeit wine

February 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Check out this story from Bloomberg today. Even the rich and famous are getting stung by counterfeiting – and in a big way!

Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) — I think of the past 10 years as the counterfeit-wine decade.

While the number of fakes began exploding in the mid-1990s, the problem was only widely acknowledged a few years ago and promises to heat up even more in 2010, partly thanks to billionaire collector William I. Koch.

In the past 3 1/2 years, Koch, founder and president of Florida-based Oxbow Group, has sued auction houses, collectors, a retailer and a wine importing company, saying all of them sold wines to him that turned out to be fakes.

“The sun is shining here,” he said by phone from his Palm Beach home, where he keeps his 40,000-bottle cellar. “But my lawsuits are grinding out at a slow pace.”

All have yet to come to trial. Some allegations of auction- house fraud and negligent misrepresentation were dismissed because the sale catalogs contain broad disclaimers that the wine is auctioned “as is” and Koch didn’t inspect the bottles before the sales, according to court documents. Other claims of his remain to be decided. No court has yet judged any of the wines fake.

The collector said he has rejected offers from several defendants to return his money — he wants to force auction houses to change the way they do business, obtain punitive damages, and even see a couple of people go to jail.

“I’m gearing up to file more in 2010,” said the 69-year- old, sounding charged up at the prospect. Koch’s litigious history includes lawsuits against his brothers over a 20-year period.

Thomas Jefferson’s Wine

His wine-based suits started in 2006, when he filed a complaint on Aug. 31 against German wine dealer and former pop music manager Hardy Rodenstock, who sold wines he claimed had once belonged to Thomas Jefferson. Koch says the “Jefferson bottles” he purchased from retailers supplied by Rodenstock are counterfeits.

Koch’s initial lawsuit was dismissed as the judge ruled the court lacked jurisdiction to try it. Koch refiled two amended complaints in 2008. The wines were authenticated, Rodenstock said in letters to Koch that were attached to the refiled suit.

In 2007, Koch sued Internet entrepreneur and wine collector Eric Greenberg and Scarsdale, New York-based Zachys Wine Auctions. Koch claims 19 wines he purchased — 11 of them consigned by Greenberg — were or might be fakes, and that Greenberg knew his wines weren’t genuine.

Charity Wine Tasting

Anthony Coles, Greenberg’s attorney, said in an e-mail that the allegations in Koch’s lawsuit are false and that Koch had declined the offer of a full refund and a charity wine-tasting to benefit children.

In March 2008, Koch sued the Chicago Wine Co. and Chicago- based Julienne Importing Co. and a month later went after New York auction house Acker Merrall & Condit, accusing all of them of selling him fakes.

Acker auction director John Kapon and Devin Warner, president of Chicago Wine Co. said in phone calls they couldn’t comment on the cases. James Ricker, owner of Julienne Importing Co., didn’t respond to a phone message asking for comment. Jeff Zacharia, president of Zachys, didn’t respond to a phone call or e-mail seeking comment.

“It’s a bigger story than an actual problem,” Kapon said.

Last September, Koch filed suit against Los Angeles-based collector Rudy Kurniawan, claiming he was the consignor of five counterfeits Koch bought at Acker. Kurniawan hasn’t denied the claim in any court papers and didn’t return phone calls seeking comment.

Experts Search

Altogether, Koch’s complaints include more than 40 bottles for which he paid almost $1 million. He estimates he’s spent about $5 million in legal fees and on gathering evidence. Two wine experts he hired turned up several hundred suspect bottles in his own collection, he said. That works out to about 1 percent of Koch’s 40,000 bottles.

“Every wine I’ve bought at a charity auction is fake, I think,” he said, chuckling. “I haven’t decided what to do about that.”

Coordinating all this is Koch’s representative Brad Goldstein, who says he’s contacted other collectors, asking them to work with Koch. “I can think of four CEOs whose cellars are inundated with fakes,” Goldstein said. “But we’ve been told they don’t want to get involved.”

It’s easy to see why. Prominent people have reasons to maintain their privacy. As a consequence, wine industry insiders can only guess at how big the problem is.

“Counterfeits have become more sophisticated in the past decade,” said Jamie Ritchie, Sotheby’s senior vice president of wine, North America. “Distribution is broader. In the 1990s we saw mostly Bordeaux. Now it’s Burgundy, too.”

Suspect Burgundies

At an April 2008 Acker sale, 22 lots of Domaine Ponsot Burgundies consigned by Kurniawan were pulled when Laurent Ponsot questioned their authenticity. Ever since, Ponsot has been sleuthing to find the ultimate source of these wines.

Russell H. Frye, who settled his own wine-fraud lawsuit against a California retailer out of court in 2008, said he sees new fake-wine players at every level.

“Some auction houses are less willing to offer questionable bottles due in part to the threat of criminal prosecution and civil litigation,” Frye said in an e-mail. Two years ago Frye started Web site as a place where wine lovers could report and discuss counterfeits.

Another effect of Koch’s lawsuits, said Marc Lazar, president of St.-Louis-based Cellar Advisors LLC, “is that vendors are now incredibly accommodating about reimbursement if a collector thinks a bottle he’s purchased is fake. The word counterfeit is radioactive.”

But what happens to bottles clients have returned? “That’s ultimately Koch’s point,” Lazar said. “Unscrupulous merchants just sell to someone else.”

Gray Market

Lazar said he sees fewer counterfeits at high profile retailers and auction houses, but that they flourish on the so- called gray market, where brokers with little or no stock buy and sell wines held by others.

These days everyone in the fine-wine business has at least one fake-wine story.

ACTA Negotiations Continue In Mexico, But Secrecy Remains A Concern

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment

The United States is among more than a dozen countries meeting this week in Mexico for the next round of negotiations for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) a proposed treaty to crack down on copyright and other IP theft, but discussions remain shrouded in secrecy.

Internet industry figures fear that ACTA will force participating countries to introduce tough penalties for copyright breaches to bring them into line with US laws. But the impact on many countries might be limited because the governments have already adopted many US measures as part of an earlier trade agreements between the nations.

Negotiations, which have gone for more than two years, continue with four days of meetings in Guadalajara, Mexico, starting today.

The agenda has set aside several hours for discussion of civil enforcement, border measures and enforcement procedures but has scheduled just an hour for discussion of transparency, adding to fears of secrecy among critics of the agreement.

The accord is intended to upgrade laws surrounding copyright protection for digital content following an explosion in piracy and a booming trade in counterfeit goods.

The treaty is expected to empower copyright holders, including major music and film studios, and put extra responsibility on the shoulders of internet service providers to assist with enforcement.

Participating countries – mostly developed nations, including the US, Japan, Australia and the members of the European Union – have agreed not to release detail of discussions beyond a broad overview at the start of discussions. In fact, all the governments participating in the negotiations are bound by confidentiality agreements.

Heading to Cancun Next Week

November 25, 2009 1 comment

I am off to Cancun, Mexico to participate in the 5th Global Congress Combating Counterfeiting & Piracy.  As many of you may know there have been a series of these meetings over the past 4 or 5 years sponsored by Interpol, the World Customs Organization,  the International Trademark Association, and BASCAP, the anticounterfeiting arm of the International Chamber of Commerce.  I have to say that, as usual with these things, the agenda looks a bit heavy on the government officials telling us once again about the dangers of counterfeiting.  Nevertheless, these meetings are very good for maintaining the presence of the counterfeiting on the top of the agenda of government decision makers. It is also the meetings that take place in the hallways outside of the presentation hall that can be important as well.  I will do some posts from Mexico to let you all know how it is going.

5th Global Congress Combating Counterfeiting And Piracy

November 18, 2009 Leave a comment


See you at the Congress


The 5th Global Congress On Counterfeiting And Piracy will take place in Cancun, Mexico from December 1 – 3.  The organizing organization for this Congress is Interpol and there will be a special emphasis on the problems of counterfeiting and piracy in Latin America.

My partner, Jose Werner, and I will be attending the Congress and would like to meet you if you are attending.  Contact me at  See you there.