Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Counterfeiting Takes a Turn

During the economic boom, high end designers had to deal with counterfeits. Prominent labels such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton were besieged with counterfeit goods across the globe. Since then, many of these luxury goods manufacturers have curtailed counterfeit activity by a continuous campaign of legal warfare against the counterfeiters. This has in general worked and while there are still counterfeit goods on the market and buyers who crave them, the design houses with big money and large legal departments have put a dent in the piracy of their names. What is interesting is the increase in mass market brands that are facing the counterfeit game.

Popular brands such as Gap and Victoria’s Secret are facing the counterfeit manufacturing concept. According to an article on by Martha C. White, many of these popular retailers are seeing an increase in the counterfeiting of their goods. Part of the reason cited is the economy. Many consumers have been affected by the economic downturn and what was once a reasonably priced product that the average consumer could purchase without care is now out of reach. Everyone has to tighten their budget belts and if Gap was a good deal once, it may not be obtainable today. These same consumers are stilling wanting to purchase but have found a more affordable alternative, the counterfeit good.

The problem with this concept is the cost to these popular retailers. Most are relatively large and like the luxury design houses, they can legally fight the infringement of their brand, but it takes money. When a manufacturer fights a legal battle against a blatant theft of their name and product the consumer is ultimately the one who pays. Attorneys cost money, lots of money. When a manufacturer has to add this into their cost we all pay more for the same product. While understanding the consumer point of view, they want a product that they can afford, it’s hard to argue with the damage consumers are doing to the retail market with their own self serving interests.

Purchasing counterfeit goods does nothing but harm. It increases the cost of the product to consumer who must now shoulder the additional cost of legal proceedings. It also fuels the coffers of illegal criminal groups who may, and probably do, use their counterfeit goods sales for more illegal activities. It’s a bad deal all around. If money is tight, look locally for good deals. Since conspicuous consumption is out, why not purchase from a local artisan. There are many designers, small retailers and local craftspeople who sell on Esty and their own website that make their products or purchase legitimately from wholesalers and they do not sell counterfeits. So the next time you think buying a counterfeit hurts no one, think again and give a local artisan a try. Their products are unique, handcrafted and definitely not counterfeit.

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