Fairfax, Va., Aug. 8, 2022 — George Mason University’s Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC) is pleased to partner with Amazon to co-host the 2022 Bring Down Counterfeiting Public Policy Hackathon. This event will challenge teams from U.S. academic institutions, companies, and other affiliations to develop innovative ideas to improve public-private collaborations in the United States against the industry-wide, global challenge of counterfeiting. The final round of the public policy hackathon will be held in-person on November 5, when teams will compete for more than $20,000 in prizes.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates that pirated and counterfeit products make up 2.5% of world trade or roughly $464 billion a year. Counterfeiters deprive brand owners of the value of their intellectual property, compete unfairly with honest entrepreneurs, and may place the health and safety of consumers at risk. Additionally, counterfeiting may intersect with other nefarious activity such as illicit trafficking in narcotics, arms, persons, and wildlife.
The methods counterfeiters use and the channels they aim to exploit continue to evolve, and there is wide variability in the investments and impact that different industry stakeholders are having to prevent counterfeiters. Amazon has long invested and made significant progress in protecting its store from counterfeit, fraud, and other forms of abuse. However, the entire industry can do more, and collaboration across industry and between the private and public sector is key to stopping counterfeiters.
Louise Shelley, Director of TraCCC at George Mason University, explains Mason’s commitment to studying and developing solutions to stop counterfeiting:
“Our goal is to bring together U.S. policymakers, domain experts, and academic institutions to raise awareness of the threats and generate powerful new ideas to stop this criminal activity. We are excited to have Amazon as a partner in this initial event, and we appreciate their leadership in fostering a culture of open cooperation and innovation. It’s clear that policy knowledge, creative ideas, and technical know-how from across the public and private sectors will be necessary to combat this global challenge. The results from this public policy hackathon will also be used to inform our ongoing research on counterfeit and other criminal supply chain networks.”
Mary Beth Westmoreland, Vice President of Brand Protection at Amazon, shared why Amazon is partnering on this event:
“Amazon is known for its customer obsession, and a critical part of that is earning and maintaining our customers’ trust. Since opening our doors in 1995, trust has been at the foundation of everything we do. Nearly 27 years later, we are more effective than ever at protecting customers, brands, selling partners, and our store. While we are proud of the progress we have made, we will not stop until we drive counterfeits to zero in our store, and we will continue to invest and innovate until we get there. We also appreciate the growing industry-wide partnership and collaboration in the fight against counterfeit. We are excited about what we can do together to hold bad actors accountable and ensure the entire industry is rid of counterfeits.”
Organized by Blue Clarity, the challenge kicks off virtually this week with free registration. See expeditionhacks.com/counterfeiting for competition details and to register. As ideas are developed, teams will be able to engage real-time with a diverse group of mentors from across the public and private sectors, participate in virtual workshops, and access a curated library of content about the global scope of the counterfeiting challenge, the societal and economic risks, relevant legal frameworks in the United States, models for private-public collaborations, industry best practices, and more. Full hackathon rules, submission guidelines, and judging criteria can be found at expeditionhacks.com/counterfeiting.
The Terrorism and Transnational Crime and Corruption Center, a research center at George Mason University, is the first center in the United States devoted to understanding the links between terrorism, transnational crime and corruption, as well as teaching, researching, training, and helping to formulate policy on these critical issues. TraCCC’s research is disseminated to the public through conferences, congressional testimony, TraCCC’s book series and other publications. Learn more at traccc.gmu.edu.
About George Mason
George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls 39,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility. In 2022, Mason celebrates 50 years as an independent institution. Learn more at gmu.edu.