Look at these two coffee mugs. Both say Pantone Universe (trademarked) on the surface. But one is a knockoff. Can you tell which one?
You don’t have to look too closely to tell the difference. One has sharp text with less bleed, glossy white ceramic and trademark registration on the underside. The facsimile has an almost distastefully thick font, off-white porcelain that leaves a noticeable gray rim around the top and no supporting data.
Why is this important?
As hoteliers, we have an obligation to uphold the law and that includes protecting the copyrights of materials that we utilize in every aspect of our operation from the photography on our website to the oil we use in our kitchen fryer.
Fortunately, our suppliers are quite cognizant of the proliferation of counterfeits. In my particular case, I was ordering a replacement mug from a set that fondly serves as my canteen for my morning brew. After noticing the counterfeit, I attempted to remedy the situation by contacting Amazon, whereupon a spokesperson stated adamantly in detail that the corporation prohibits the sale of such knockoffs and that they diligently investigate all violations.
I tested Amazon’s policy with the Pantone coffee mugs depicted here and the company was true to its word. Within two days of identifying my concern, the response was that they deleted the vendor and, naturally, the $20 charged for the mug was credited to my account.
Still, it is near-impossible for vendors to identify every single product as they are supplied. Therefore, it is our obligation as hoteliers to verify for ourselves to ensure the verisimilitude of high-quality hospitality.
Your purchasing department should advise all of your suppliers of your policy to reject any goods on this basis and accept returns without any charge. Make it clear to your advertising, social media and publicity agencies that they are responsible for ensuring the appropriate permissions for any visual assets that they use on your behalf.
We need to work together on this. Aside from any potential safety concerns or lawsuits, there is a fundamental duty of care. Moreover, just as I immediately recognized that the mug I received was a fake upon opening the box, it shouldn’t come as a shock to learn that some of your guests are equally as discerning with other hard goods or merchandise deployed to create your hotel’s experience.
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