A-CAPP Student Interns Receive Awards and Recognition at 2022 George Mason University Hackathon

November 22, 2022 - Emily Jodway

ACAPP team Student interns of the Center for Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection (A-CAPP) returned from the 2022 Bring Down Counterfeiting Public Policy Hackathon with awards for their research and innovation in global anti-counterfeiting solutions. 

The first annual Anti-Counterfeiting Policy Hackathon, hosted by George Mason’s Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center, challenges teams from around the world to develop and present creative ways to improve the current international effort to reduce intellectual property theft and the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods. 

Two teams of Spartan students received recognition at the Hackathon. MSU A-CAPP Team 1 (Parker Coles, Amaiya Jones, Anna Brown, Adam Brezovsky, Lorens Kims) presented virtually and were awarded $10,000 towards further research on their in-development project. The group proposed producing a central database to help law enforcement and private businesses track individuals and factories that manufacture or sell counterfeit items. 

MSU A-CAPP Team 2 (Adam Nowak, Sam Gardner, Anna Molnar, Kasey Patrick, Katie Holka) traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in the Hackathon in person, sponsored by the College of Social Science and the College of Arts & Letters and the Department of English x. The group won the $5,000 student prize for their project The Spartan Solution, a cipher-based solution to identifying and combating counterfeit listings on e-commerce sites. 

The Spartan Solution considered current shortcomings in anti-counterfeiting software and proposed the requirement of an encryption code in order to list items for sale on e-commerce platforms. This would greatly reduce the chances of counterfeit products making their way onto sites like Amazon, because brand owners would be notified when third-party sellers attempt to post a listing under their brand’s name, and if the required code entered is incorrect, the third-party seller’s account would be suspended until the e-commerce platform or trademark owner themselves reviews the attempt. 

Submissions were judged by experts in the field of counterfeiting, including the director of the A-CAPP Center, Kari Kammel, and the director of the Intellectual Property Rights Center, James Mancuso, and were reviewed based on their ability to demonstrate innovative ways to improve current efforts among law enforcement and private businesses against counterfeiting. Developing solutions to these crimes requires a very interdisciplinary way of thinking, which both student groups demonstrated with backgrounds of study in criminal justice, prelaw, political theory and constitutional democracy, and law enforcement and intelligence agencies. 

Around 2.5 percent of world trade is made up of pirated and counterfeit products, as estimated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). When counterfeiters sell fake trademarked products and pass them off as the real thing, they are depriving brand owners of the sale of their genuine products and could be selling potentially dangerous products to their consumers. The A-CAPP Center and its director, Kari Kammel, are at the forefront of MSU’s efforts on anti-counterfeiting research. Student interns at the A-CAPP Center conduct hands-on research on brand protection and ways to combat counterfeiting efforts around the world. 

“The research by the A-CAPP Center student interns is important to showcase the next generation of brand protection professionals and the work and ideas that they can contribute to the field,” Kammel said. 

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