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Search engines allow intellectual property violations

There is no denying the popularity of online shopping. Many in New York may have already started their holiday shopping online expecting to find some bargains. However, a new study recently revealed that more than half of the websites to which search engines lead consumers are selling counterfeit products, many of which are of poor quality. Not only does this place consumers at risk, but it may also lead to trademark or intellectual property litigation from those who created the original product.

About 60% of search engine results for consumer products lead customers to fake goods, often within to top three results of a search. Most worrisome to consumer advocates is that many of these products can be dangerous if not manufactured under careful guidance and regulation. This includes children’s products such as teethers, large appliances and even pharmaceuticals. In almost all cases, the test search led researchers to counterfeit products using the same trademarks as original products.

Search engines are not covered by laws that require them to remove from their search results websites for fake products. This process, called de-indexing, applies to Amazon, Facebook and other online giants, but not to search engines such as Google. Intellectual property owners often have to deal directly with search engines to have such sites removed, and this can be a challenge.

Litigation may be one way to reduce the number of websites selling protected brands. Protecting intellectual property rights is critical. Owners of brands or other types of intellectual property may reach out to a New York attorney for advice about how best to pursue actions to protect their rights.