Pandemic Serves as Booster to Counterfeit Trade – Insights from an IPR Investigator (by Lee Bumgarner)


Lee Bumgarner

IPR Private Investigator

Lee Bumgarner is an experienced investigator. He specialized in IPR services including a broad range of corporate consulting services. In the last 40 years, he gained experience throughout Asia in intelligence collection and analyses, due diligence, special investigations, litigation support, asset searches, security audits and Crisis and Risk Management. The last 12 years, Lee focused mainly on the Philippines and Malaysia.


While the underlying drivers of counterfeit goods trade have not changed in the past years, the pandemic has shaken up the market. The flourishing e-commerce, the extensive use of social media platforms, and the Covid-19 pandemic have all led to the counterfeiting issue becoming a critical concern. Lee Bumgarner gives us some insight into his work in the Philippines as an IPR Investigator.

The Covid-19 pandemic held the entire world in its firm grip for the last three years. Slowly, quarantines are lifted, employees return to the office after working at home for an extended period, and even travel has an upturn. Nevertheless, we can still see the immense impact of the virus on industries. Especially manufacturing production struggled with the supply chain disruption, the drop in demand, and the overall recession, and for some countries it will take years to go back to their pre-pandemic production and income levels. These major logistic disruptions created a ripple effect and industries had to make adaptations to meet the increasing demand. A shift to e-commerce took place to respond to the new global demand but unfortunately, this gave organized crime groups the chance to infiltrate supply chains.


Big companies such as Amazon and E-bay rely on third party vendors to increase their trade, and such websites have facilitated counterfeit trade due to minimal authentication of the vendors. Counterfeit goods can be sold via live-streaming, social media platforms, and more, misleading buyers with discounts or low price products. During the pandemic, enforcement actions were sporadic, and investigators now have to combine the online trade with their on-the-ground investigations. We have asked Lee Bumgarner to give us some insight into his work in the Philippines against counterfeiters.

Did you know?

As counterfeiters rarely target one brand, anti-counterfeiting feels like an area in which affected industries could join forces. Since 2019, the WFSGI has built an on-the-ground coalition  open to WFSGI members
and/or any other associated industries such as the fashion sector, facing similar challenges with the
intention to organize joint raids in order:

  • to share costs of enforcements
  • to put suspects completely out of business by seizing bigger volume
  • and send a strong signal to the authorities that the industries were acting together.


So far, joint raids have been successfully conducted in Southeast Asia, with the support of trusted investigators recommended by asics and Under Armour, targeting multiple shopping malls, several
warehouses, and involving many fashion and sport brands.

About World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI)

The WFSGI is the world authoritative body for the sports industry officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the industry representative within the Olympic Family. The WFSGI is an independent association with no objective of economic character for its own gain and formed by sports and sports-inspired leisure brands, manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, national/regional federations, industry and trade associations and all sporting goods industry related businesses. Our purpose is to represent and inspire the industry, to invest in innovation, promote physical activity, support free trade, and do business in an ethical and sustainable way. As part of our mission, we facilitate legally permissible communication and cooperation to enhance competitiveness and innovation. We seek to positively influence the way our products are manufactured, with a focus on people involved in the manufacturing and the environment. Our members are steering the direction of the industry. The future of the sporting goods industry begins with the professional networks that we support.