June 3, 2020
As the novel coronavirus developed into a global pandemic, UL’s Global Security and Brand Protection team, under the guidance of Brand Protection Director Warren MacInnis, knew that it was only a matter of time before unscrupulous vendors would look to capitalize on the crisis.
The team sprang into action to combat “infringement listings,” where bad actors falsely attest their medical equipment is UL Certified. They place fraudulent UL logos or UL Marks on products and, for some deceptive vendors, even place stolen UL testing documents online as proof of UL Certification.
“When supply chains are short and everybody’s looking for medical equipment or personal protective equipment, unscrupulous people will try to capitalize on their desperation,” said Michael Hill, brand protection manager, UL. “Falsely adding the UL Mark gives these deceptive vendors a competitive edge over other suppliers."
The Brand Protection team started by first identifying specific product categories currently distributed online. Next, they verified whether the product was being distributed by a legitimate UL customer or if it was an imposter posing as a UL customer.
This initial exercise revealed patterns that allowed the team to home in on a more refined list for future searches. To date, the Brand Protection team has reviewed over 40,000 online supplier listings and disrupted over 300 million deceptive products from entering the marketplace.
However, their work doesn’t end there. The Brand Protection team virtually trained over 4,000 enforcement agents in China, Guatemala, Peru, Singapore, Indonesia and the U.S., making the initiative a collaborative effort worth celebrating.
“This is what we do every day,” said Jason Daniels, senior brand protection manager. “We don't want the wrong products going to consumers and if we can eliminate those products from being sold, great. By bringing this intelligence together and identifying a handful of bad actors, we all win.”