Knowledge Center

Understanding the SHOP SAFE Act and How to Safeguard Your Brand

In the digital age, a brand’s reputation is a crucial asset and one of the greatest threats a brand faces is counterfeiting. Whether it’s a popular weight-loss drug like semaglutide or designer apparel, the counterfeit market is thriving and costing brands billions of dollars every year. The impact goes far beyond financial losses; it puts consumer health and safety at risk. Due to the rise in harmful counterfeit products across a variety of industries, the US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property introduced the Stopping Harmful Offers on Platforms by Screening Against Fakes in E-Commerce (SHOP SAFE) Act. The SHOP SAFE Act is legislation aimed at reducing the volume of counterfeit sales online. It includes provisions such as holding platforms accountable for counterfeits that endanger consumer health and safety, requiring them to verify and display sellers’ identity and contact information, and terminating the accounts of repeat infringers.

Criticisms to the SHOP SAFE Act have led to the realization among lawmakers and courts that striking a balance between safe harbor principles and responsibilities is necessary, given the health and safety risks associated with counterfeit products.

The Impact of Widespread Counterfeit Pharmaceuticals

The surge in counterfeit pharmaceuticals such as semaglutide, better known under the commercial brand name Ozempic, has resulted in consumers falling seriously ill after purchasing these fake products online. After a huge surge in demand for the drug in 2023, pharmacies have struggled to keep it in stock and counterfeiters have taken advantage of the lack of availability by flooding the internet with fake semaglutide. Healthcare agencies in the UK have reported multiple cases of consumers falling seriously ill after purchasing counterfeit semaglutide online. Recently, a BBC investigation similarly uncovered cases of consumers buying counterfeit semaglutide pens from sellers on Instagram, WhatsApp and TikTok, with some ending up being hospitalized. Another example comes from Austria where several patients injected with suspected counterfeit semaglutide were hospitalized after suffering from hypoglycemia and seizures. This reality underscores the importance of the SHOP SAFE Act and why brand protection is no longer a choice but a necessity for businesses and consumer protection.Successful Online Brand Protection Solutions by Authentix

To dig deeper into the extent of the counterfeit semaglutide market, Authentix Online Brand Protection (OBP) scanned multiple platforms and found several suspicious listings of semaglutide across social media and messaging apps and online marketplaces.

In the absence of a detailed investigation, it is difficult to establish which of these products are counterfeit and governments and the industry would benefit from investigating such listings in greater detail. For example, many suspicious listings found by Authentix OBP contained clickbait hashtags like #weightloss and #ozempic. These could serve as a starting point for an investigation. Further, selling even genuine semaglutide without a prescription is an offence in most jurisdictions. Listings of such a nature should automatically be taken down by platforms without insistence on documentation such as IP registration certificates. Similarly, parallel imports should also be treated by platforms as serious cases, not least because these products may be tampered with and may also contain literature in languages not native to the country of sale. The same goes for a significant reduction in retail price — a common tactic employed by rogue sellers to lure consumers. To truly bust the counterfeit semaglutide market, however, will require a sustained cross-border effort that targets known high-risk marketplaces and platforms, and eventually results in physical investigations and enforcement actions.

The Importance of Counterfeit Prevention

Authentix OBP recommends brands check a wide range of sites for infringing products as new listings and new marketplaces for counterfeit goods pop up every day. Between constant monitoring of online marketplaces and e-commerce sites, implementing cutting-edge technology to detect infringing listings, and expert-led takedowns of counterfeit listings, a full online brand protection solution helps brands protect their company and customers from counterfeiters.

The SHOP SAFE Act places an obligation on companies to protect their consumers, and Authentix OBP equips brands with the power and tools to do so – a perfect synergy for safeguarding your brand’s integrity and keeping consumers safe.

About Authentix Online Brand Protection

Authentix provides some of the world’s most recognizable brands with sophisticated online brand protection tools and services to address a broad range of online infringement and counterfeit risks. From global online surveillance and enforcement, online investigations and site takedowns, target verification, and even offline investigations, Authentix helps major brands proactively reduce the threat of counterfeit products being sold online. Our online brand protection solutions combine cutting-edge technological tools and expert analysis to reduce infringements for our clients on online marketplaces, social media platforms, and websites by up to 90%.

Want to see what Authentix OBP can do for your company? Our team is committed to working with you, understanding your unique challenges and requirements, and providing tailored solutions that best fit your industry and the unique challenges your brand faces that make a tangible difference to your brand. Schedule a consultation with one of our brand protection experts to learn more. 

Back To Top