Search engines including Google are refusing to remove websites selling counterfeit goods from their search results, putting customers at risk.
Counterfeit websites which infringe intellectual property laws appeared in up to 60 per cent of results returned by search engines, according to new research from online brand protection company Incorpo.
One Chinese retailer which Incorpo says it identified as selling counterfeit goods included big name brands like Whirlpool, Samsung and GE in its page title, helping it appear on the first page of Google search results for 80 per cent of searches relating to the goods.
It is understood that nearly 50 per cent of traffic to counterfeit websites comes from consumers searching keywords relating to specific brands, while over 25 per cent of these website appear in the first three search results.
“When Incopro notifies Facebook, Amazon or eBay that there is a product being sold through these sites that is fake or infringes IP in some way, the companies take action to remove the offer for sale from their platform,” Incorpo’s chief executive Simon Baggs said.
“With counterfeit trade worth more than $500bn a year, it is time search engines played their part in putting a stop to the fakers, rather than encouraging them to proliferate through inaction.”
Google says that it “does not at this time de-index URLs or websites from its Web Search index on trademark grounds upon request”, but added that it would continue “to evaluate court orders issued against third parties”.