USPTO partnership “Go For Real’ helps young consumers avoid dangerous fakes 


As America’s Innovation Agency, the USPTO is working to protect brands: those owned by individuals and startups, as well as ones known around the world. The USPTO is working to change the narrative around purchasing counterfeit products and informing consumers about the dangers and consequences of purchasing counterfeit goods.

Counterfeit products, such as faulty electronics and fake medicines, cause serious injuries and death. Fake electronics and consumer items can cause fires or include dangerous chemicals that can seep into skin.

Education on the dangers of counterfeit goods must start early. That’s why, since 2019, the USPTO has partnered with the National Crime Prevention Council and McGruff the Crime Dog on the Go For Real campaign. This innovative, multi-format public awareness initiative informs tweens, teens, and their caregivers and educators on how to spot counterfeit products and avoid the risk of harm they pose.

On August 11, “Go For Real” debuted its latest public service announcement (PSA), “The Real McGruff,” featuring a 3-D animated McGruff the Crime Dog and his nephew, Scruff. This PSA will be seen by millions in English and Spanish on television, social media, and other distribution channels. In its debut week alone, the PSA aired approximately 300 times, including on major networks and on Spanish-language channels in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Boston, and more.

Campaigns have been launched in Mexico and Thailand. The latest iteration is in Mexico, where the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property has developed the “Elige el Original” (“choose the original”) campaign. It features a new mascot: an Axolotl, or a Mexican salamander. There are plans to expand into other global markets.

Buying fake products funnels money from U.S. jobs and companies into the hands of criminal enterprises, supporting human trafficking, the gun and drug trades, and other crimes. We estimate that the global sale of counterfeit goods hovers around $2 trillion per year. In 2021, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement–Homeland Security investigation seized over 27,000 shipments containing counterfeit goods, with a total value (had they been genuine) of more than $3.3 billion.

At the USPTO, we are working across government and with legitimate businesses that invest significantly in their products and brands. We are joined in this important work by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the International Trade Administration, the U.S. Copyright Office, and private sector leaders such as the International Trademark Association, the National Inventors Hall of Fame, innovation film organization Cinequest, and others.

Kathi Vidal is under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the USPTO.

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