Insights National Trading Standards eCrime Team announces new initiative to curb the sale of fake goods on social media

A new, government-backed initiative has been developed to protect consumers and small businesses from the harm caused by the growing trade in fake goods on social media “buy-and-sell” groups.

The Real Deal Online programme has been developed by the National Markets Group for IP Protection (NMG) in conjunction with the National Trading Standards eCrime Team (NTSeCT) to create greater awareness amongst administrators of local social media groups of their legal responsibility to prevent the promotion and sale of counterfeit goods and other illicit products within their groups.

The programme, which will be rolled out at a local level by Trading Standards Services, establishes a process for trading standards officers to contact administrators of social media buy-and-sell groups and help them run a fake-free group.  Administrators are invited to follow the Real Deal Online Code of Practice, which requires group administrators to welcome local trading standards officers as members of the group and to agree to five simple steps:

  1. to prohibit the sale of counterfeit and other illicit goods;
  2. to act on information from intellectual property rights owners and their representatives who highlight the sale of illegal goods;
  3. to notify trading standards if they believe that illegal goods are being sold within the group and to exclude the sellers of these goods;
  4. to highlight warnings and advice notices posted by trading standards; and
  5. to make sure that all members of the group are aware of its fake-free policy.

Groups that agree to follow the Code of Practice will be allowed to display the Real Deal logo, which will act as a visual assurance to shoppers and to traders that it is a fake-free shopping zone.

The new initiative is a natural extension of the NMG’s Real Deal campaign, which has been in place at physical markets and car boot fairs for nearly ten years, with hundreds of markets across the UK committed to being fake-free by signing the voluntary Real Deal Charter alongside their local trading standards service.  The success of the original campaign prompted the extension into the burgeoning arena of online and social media marketplaces.

A pre-launch trial of the programme was implemented by NTSeCT with North Yorkshire Trading Standards Service.  Seven buy-and-sell groups operating in the region via social media, with a total of over 41,000 members, agreed to the Code of Practice and now display the Real Deal logo on their selling pages.

To date, 24 local authority trading standards services across the UK have expressed interest in introducing the Real Deal Online programme. As the programme rolls out over coming months, participating trading standards services will be making contact with administrators of buy-and-sell groups in their areas to advise them of their legal responsibilities and invite them to sign up to the Code of Practice.  To read the NTSeCT announcement in full, click here.