What’s a Counterfeit?
A counterfeit is quite simply a copy or imitation that someone knowingly passes off as the real thing. Counterfeits are also called pirated goods, bogus products, knock-offs…and fakes!
Counterfeit items replicate not only the product design but trademarked features such as the logo and brand name. Counterfeit goods break intellectual property laws and are thus illegal.
Counterfeit merchandise is often confused with ‘designer inspired’ items, but they are not quite the same thing. Although designer inspired items look similar to the genuine article, they don’t include a logo or brand name. This usually means that designer inspired items are able to be bought and resold legally, although it depends on who you talk to!
7 good reasons to avoid counterfeit goods
So what’s the big deal about not getting the real deal?
Consumer Direct lists the following reasons why you should steer clear of knock-offs.
- The goods may be dangerous. From fake medication that fails to kick in during that next asthma attack, to fake auto parts that fail to function properly in an emergency situation… you may be putting yourself, your loved ones and your buyers at risk when you use or sell counterfeit products.
- Many fake goods finance organized crime, and even terrorists. In 2007, counterfeiting was a USD 650 billion industry. This fact has not escaped crime syndicates and terrorists looking for sources of funding. There’s certainly a lot of money in fakes – but before you place your order, consider who you might inadvertently be financing!
- You may end up paying higher taxes. Somebody has to shoulder the taxes on all goods, but don’t count on the counterfeiters doing that for you.
- Fakes cost people their jobs. Workers at the legitimate factories may lose their jobs because the real producers can’t compete with the fakes.
- You’ll probably end up shouldering a ton after-sales support. Or worse, you can be held accountable for any user mishaps causing harm or damage.
- Knock-offs deprive the copyright owner of income that can be used to fund new development. If Microsoft hadn’t been obssessive about protecting its turf, we’d probably be stuck using Windows 3.1.
- The US Bureau of Customs and Border Patrol are very aggressive in protecting intellectual property. They will seize any goods bearing trademarks or copyrights that do not have the proper authorization.
Watching Out for Fakes When Purchasing Online
eBay is currently embroiled in several court cases with a number of luxury brands who feel that the online retail giant isn’t doing enough to stop the sale and auction of counterfeit items. Here are some tips to protect you from fakes while using online wholesalers.
- This will sound like a tired cliché by now, but if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Assume designer items are fakes. Then demand that the supplier prove otherwise. All genuine items will come with official documentation.
- Be careful of your sources, and check them thoroughly, especially if they are based in Asia.
- Check the return policy. If the supplier doesn’t have one, it’s a warning sign.
- Watch out for other scams. The goods themselves may not be the only dubious thing about the transaction.
- Use PayPal or Visa. If the supplier insists on cash, then it’s a signal for you to suspect that something’s amiss!