US & Italy Look At Challenges and Opportunities Together

The Embassy of Italy in Washington recently hosted the seminar “Fighting Counterfeits: Future Challenges and Cooperation between the US & Italy”. An opportunity to discuss a sensitive issue and its negative impact on the international economy, employment and the health and safety of consumers. Luxottica was invited to share its experience.

The 2014 report of the Italian Center for Social Investment Studies (CENSIS) revealed that counterfeiting in Italy brings in 6.5 billion Euros per year. Eyewear is one of the most affected sectors along with apparel and other accessories, CDs, DVDs, software and food. In 2014, about 300 million counterfeit items were seized in Italy with an estimated value of about 3 billion Euros, and over 260 websites selling counterfeit items were shut down.

Counterfeiting is an illicit business that involves large criminal organizations operating at an international level. A pervasive phenomenon, counterfeiting is growly quickly online, fostered by low cost of entry into e-commerce and the lack of consistency in terms of legislation. It’s often underestimated by consumers and perceived as a “victimless crime”, which is not the case. For example, a pair of counterfeit glasses does not guarantee the high quality standards of the original one, which can be dangerous to the health of our eyes. All Luxottica’s eyewear are made from the highest quality materials and undergo extensive endurance and quality testing before reaching the stores.

Beyond the threat to consumer health and safety, counterfeiting has a negative impact on the entire enterprise production chain, with reduction in revenue and market share, lower propensity to invest in research and innovation and loss of jobs. Local and state governments are also hurt by the drop in tax collection.

The seminar held in Washington DC was a significant opportunity to kick off the discussion on counterfeiting between public and private operators in the United States and Italy. The panels highlighted the global impact of this crime, the efforts of law enforcement agencies and the need for tougher, more consistent legislation, particularly online. It’s clear there is a strong commitment to combatting counterfeiting from public and private entities, including Luxottica, on the front lines of the fight.

Luxottica has developed a vigorous anti-counterfeiting program which is carried out by a team committed to protecting its brands and products. The team operates worldwide in cooperation with local specialized institutions – customs organizations, law enforcement agencies – to intercept fake products in customs and fight the entire illegal production chain. It also works to scour the web for rogue sites, monitor the positioning of its brands on search engines and train custom and law enforcement officials to spot fakes.

Ray-Ban brand is one of the most copied in the world. In the past three years, Luxottica’s anti-counterfeiting efforts have identified 12 million units of counterfeit Ray-Bans and shut down 20,000 fake websites using its trademarks or marketing materials to promote the site. 86% of these offenses are in Chinese markets.

What’s the takeaway? It is essential to strengthen cooperation between countries, institutions and enterprises, foster the sharing of information and define and establish consistent international policies for all industries and sales channels, from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce. Every day, Luxottica renews its commitment to combat counterfeiting. We’ll be back to talk about it.