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THE TOY INDUSTRY IS BIG BUSINESS. SALES IN THE U.S. ALONE AMOUNT TO APPROXIMATELY $27 BILLION ANNUALLY. BUT WHILE TOY SALES IN THE U.S. INDICATE A SMALL GROWTH, THE THREE LARGEST TOYMAKERS REPORTED A DROP IN SALES DURING THE 2017 CHRISTMAS PERIOD, AND UK TOY SALES DECREASED BY 2.8% IN 2017. The reason? With an increased use of tablets and smartphones by kids eight and under, mobile gaming is often blamed. However, a study, by Common Sense Media, found that the increased time spent on mobile devices was offset by an equal decline in TV viewing, so the time kids have to play with traditional toys hasn't actually changed.

So, what is the cause? Simple - counterfeit toys.

"The increasing breadth and depth of counterfeit toys is a real concern, with more than 400m worth of (UK) sales being lost to the industry, as well as the cost to companies from the theft of innovative design", commented The British Toy & Hobby Association (BTHA) Director of Public Affairs and Communications, Natasha Crookes. New Zealand Customs has also stressed that the most commonly stopped good at their border is children's counterfeit toys, which account for more than half of all seizures.

The counterfeit toy hindrance was further confirmed in the recent EUIPO Synthesis Report on IPR Infringement, which claims 9.3% of toy and game sales are lost to counterfeiters. The toy and game sector suffered the third biggest loss in terms of direct sales out of the 13 sectors named as being vulnerable to intellectual property (IP) rights infringement across the EU. In response to the report findings, the BTHA commented,

"Counterfeiting has always been a concern for the toy industry but the rise of online sales, which now account for 37% of toy sales, has only intensified the problem, making it more difficult for counterfeit goods to be detected and removed from online marketplaces."

The U.S. Toy Association also raised concerns about IP infringement and toy safety on online platforms at a recent meeting in Washington, DC. Discussions with Alibaba and Amazon centered around possible solutions to help verify the safety and legitimacy of products offered for sale on their platforms. A white paper from the Toy Association, which will discuss these solutions in greater detail, is planned.

Yellow Brand Protection work with a number of well-known toy brands, to help detect and take down sales of counterfeits online. One of these toy brands is the iconic Rubik's Brand, who knows all too well about the enormity of online IP infringements.

When the Rubik's Cube popularity began to rise again, a growing number of fakes also began to emerge. This led to a whole new company, Rubik's Brand Limited, being created to handle all licensing and marketing. Key to Rubik's Brand growth has been the signing up of licensees to sell approved products such as merchandise and clothing. However, licensing alone could not stop online counterfeiters and Rubik's Brand sought the assistance of an online brand protection solution to detect those who are trying to sell the brand without an official license. To date over 98% of infringing Rubik's goods for sale on online marketplaces have been successfully removed.


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