A new tool to help brand owners and anti-counterfeiting teams in the fight against fakes leverages the power of crowd sourcing to report, track and collaborate on investigations in real-time.

The uFaker web, mobile and social platform enables users - such as consumers, investigators, licensees, sales forces, law enforcement and law firms - to file reports with images directly into an online database.

The database aggregates a brand owner's global anti-counterfeiting activities in one centralised location, providing a "big-picture" perspective.

Brand owners can share and manage the reports with their anti-counterfeiting teams from investigation through litigation or law enforcement actions.

Through a partnership with the Panjiva sourcing platform, brand owners will also be able to receive US Customs data history and alerts on companies in the uFaker database, allowing them to monitor the shipping activity of firms flagged by uFaker as having a track record of counterfeiting.

"Many of the anti-counterfeiting efforts currently employed by brand owners are not as effective as they could be," says Jason Drangel, founder of uFaker and named partner at Epstein Drangel LLP, a New York intellectual property firm.

"Counterfeiting is a huge epidemic that affects the global economy, jobs, consumer safety, brand integrity, and funds terrorism and other crimes."

Drangel created uFaker after recognising that a tool tailored to the organisation and management of anti-counterfeiting programmes was lacking. By marrying technology with crowd sourcing, the idea became a tangible anti-counterfeiting solution.

Brands like Angry Birds and Pillow Pets are already using the platform, and initial feedback is said to have been encouraging.

Brand owners using uFaker also have the option of mobilising their customers to report counterfeits and offer rewards such as discounts for confirmed report submissions.