Combating counterfeit using services of market investigative agencies sometimes appear easiest approach for brand protection teams. These investigators hunt counterfeiters on behalf of their clients by keeping watch on open market. Though it looks simpler approach than technology measures but reality is different. Most of times the brand protection team think they’re spending millions a year trying to combat something. Millions of dollars spent every year by brand protection in the right spirit, is actually lost due to little to no returns from such investment.
Private investigators operate with limited oversight, and powerful vested interests have little motivation to wipe out an illegal but highly profitable industry. Quite often private investigators are found leaking hidden security features of packaging and helping counterfeiters making their packaging equally authentic. “A lot of times the counterfeiter will turn into the investigator’s informant: ‘Don’t get me. I know these other guys down the road.’ It’s a protection racket.” Brand protection teams have no tracking of ground inspection activities done by private investigators. Recently there have been several instances wherein investigators found to presenting counterfeited product sponsored by them to collect bounties from their clients.
Private investigative agencies are also found to artificially shift brand counterfeiting from one location to another or from one brand to another to win new contracts and re-negotiate existing ones. This party continues along with fake raids, sponsored counterfeiting and legal proceedings and biggest beneficiaries are counterfeiters, private investigators and vendors providing overt/covert features on packaging. Private investigation and detective agencies were best option in times when anti-counterfeit technologies were too preliminary and tracking products at unit level was not reliable. Independent private investigation is definitely a means to keep a check on counterfeiting but only when supported by a technology that supports instant & precise authentication while assuring brand owners that the anti-counterfeit technology can’t be duplicated, even with insider connivance, coupled with credible tracking of on-ground activities.