BOOK REVIEW: Black Market Billions

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Rob Holmes and Best-selling author Hitha Prabhakar

As I do the last few days of every April I was preparing for the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition Spring Meeting.  Per my normal routine, I downloaded the agenda and devised a conference plan.  I noted that this year, unlike last, the conference had a host: Hitha Prabhakar, author of the new best seller Black Market Billions: How Organized Retail Crime Funds Global Terrorists.  In preparation of the possibility of carrying on a conversation with her, I decided to extend her the courtesy of purchasing the book on my favorite book site, audible.com.  Don’t laugh.  Come on.  You didn’t expect a narcissistic guy this hopped up on Starbucks to be able to sit down and actually read a book in three days, did you?  Besides, I love listening to non-fiction books.

Black Market Billions began with the author receiving an instant message from a friend offering her handbags for sale at a very attractive price.  Knowing that she is a full-time fashion reporter, the friend explained that the items he was selling ‘fell off the truck’.  What followed was a rabbit hole I was not expecting.  Most books that involve the world of counterfeit goods focus on the counterfeit goods industry (makes sense, doesn’t it?), but not this one.  In order to set the table properly to explain the role that counterfeit goods play in our society, Prabhakar first takes us deep into the varied world of shoplifting, human trafficking and Organized Retail Crime.

Knockoff Report - BOOK REVIEW Black Market Billions

Most of my readers know I grew up in the anti-counterfeiting industry so one may assume I was schooled in all of the ways counterfeit goods are tied to the dark parts of the world’s economy.  One would be wrong.  I knew all about cargo theft, human trafficking, parallel imports and (of course) product counterfeiting and cybercrime.  Although I knew that retail boosting existed, I didn’t know how organized it was and that it is directly tied to the same black market.  I know we can watch an episode of reality television to learn something new, but Black Market Billions added a new view to even this easily jaded joker.  Early on, she moves right to the ties between counterfeit goods and radical terrorists.  Some of these stories were cases I had worked on, so it hit home as closely as it was well-written.

Moving through the chapters, I first was trying to figure out where she was going because the structure was not organized like most books, where there would be claim, evidence, conclusion, rinse, repeat.  She told stories of individuals through their eyes and provided case studies with insight into their effect on these individuals.  As the book unfolded I felt myself engrossed in a story that I thought I knew but saw it in a different light.  Perhaps this insight was partially due to the fact that it was written by a woman.  The stories felt personal and the street crime was real as it was woven into the larger picture of Big Fashion.

I recommend this book, not only for those interested in anti-counterfeiting, but anyone who reads true crime or even thrillers.  Keep an eye on this author as well.  To top it all off, I did end up chatting with her at a party, so my reading it in time was worth it!

Now I’m going to finish my coffee.

Holmes Presenting at 27th Annual Intellectual Property Law Conference in DC

American Bar AssociationIPCybercrime’s founder Rob Holmes was invited by the American Bar Association to speak at their 27th Annual Intellectual Property Law Conference in Washington DC on Thursday March 29th on a panel entitled “Licensing, Control and Monitoring of Trademark Use on Social Media Websites”.

  • What effects do trademarks and social media have on each other? What are some of the efforts taken by in-house counsel to protect and enforce their intellectual property rights when they, their domestic and foreign licensees, and distributors, or others elect to market their brands via social media websites? The decision to host user-generated interactive content on one’s own site versus a well-established third-party social media site will be addressed, as will quality control provisions in domestic and cross-border licensing agreements and their relationship to trademark usage guidelines, social media policies and best practices.

Rob Holmes SpeakingIn Rob Holmes’ segment he will be laying the foundation of how trademarks and social media affect e-commerce on a daily basis.  From Facebook and Twitter to eBay and Craigslist, Social Media and e-commerce are blending together in this connected society.  This presentation combines Rob’s professional and personal passions: Intellectual Property protection and Social Media.  He will be joined by a panel of distinguished experts including Matthew Asbell (Ladas & Parry LLP), Robert Doerfler (SVP Worldwide), Fawn Horvath (Macy’s Inc.) and Kelly Slavitt (Reckitt Benckiser).

Internet Kung Fu in Our Nation’s Capitol

Sun-tzu

Image via Wikipedia

Online investigations has become the most needed and desired skill within all businesses.  In fact, Sun Tzu dedicates four complete chapters of his classic manual ‘The Art of War‘ to investigations.  The better your people are at gathering intelligence on threats, competitors, or even potential hires, the more more successful your company is and the more money it saves.  Dollars are saved not only by detecting and avoiding risk but also by handling the investigations in-house instead of farming the work out to a costly vendor.  There is no dispute that there is a large return on investment for training inside employees to be better investigators.  There is also no argument that most data in today’s world is online.

So how do you hone those skills?  There are plenty of classes for dummies and beginners, but very few are crafted to give you the ability to handle real-life cases right out-of-the-box.  Actually, there is only one.

Last year I launched a class that was created to teach others how to do my job.  It is called the IPCybercrime Boot Camp.  If you have not yet taken the course, I personally guarantee its value to you and your company.  If you have already taken the course, please tell your colleagues.  The next class is on Monday July 11th in Washington DC.  I encourage you click on this link and  sign up.