March 2018

Kelly McCarthy comments for WWD in “Christie Brinkley Vows to Track Down, Halt Scammers”


Counterfeiting is big business in beauty, where celebrity images are often used to bait consumers, but copycats products are what they really receive.

By Faye Brookman on March 12, 2018

The perpetually cheerful Christie Brinkley was downright upset during a telephone call last week, discussing scammers using her image to sell skin care that isn’t hers. She’s on a mission to stop the damaging practice. “I’ve developed relationships with women who trust me and that credibility takes years to build,” Brinkley told WWD.

“I’ve been in this business 40 years and there is this constant gnawing of my trust by fly-by-night [companies] with products with who knows what in them.”

Counterfeiting is a mammoth problem, accounting for as much as half a trillion dollars a year, according to Kelly McCarthy, partner at Sideman & Bancroft, an intellectual property and brand protection group. Upward of $75 million in annual losses are attributed to counterfeit products in the beauty industry, according to estimates.

“Cosmetics and skin-care companies are hit hard by counterfeiters. This is unfortunate because counterfeit cosmetics and skin care can contain potentially dangerous ingredients which can pose a health and safety risk for the consumer,” she said.

…While legal action is one avenue to halt larger scale scammers, explained McCarthy, it makes less financial sense to ferret out the smaller players ”operating out of garages.” Many of the sources are also in foreign countries, hamstringing efforts to shut them down. Sadly, she said, the fight against counterfeiters falls on brand’s shoulders. “But many companies operate under an assumption that they can’t do anything about counterfeits, so they just try to ignore the problem. This is not a good strategy. There are systems that can be put in place at a variety budget levels that can cut into the counterfeit market and make a difference for the brands’ global reputation.”