Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Counter Attack Counterfeits

The International Anti Counterfeiting Coalition estimates that counterfeiting has grown more than 10,000% over the past 2 decades. According to World Customs Organisation, fakes account for 7% or US$600 billion of all goods sold globally. The US Customs blame counterfeits for the loss of more than 750,000 American jobs. (Back home this trade probably created 5 figure job openings and earned a few pirates Datukship)Last year, the agency seized counterfeits valued at US$196.7 million, up from US$155.3 million in 2006. (Back home, confiscated items valued at very minimal amounts but the unreported 'close one eye' payment could be valued in seven digits!)

Footwear leads the list of merchandise seized, with apparel in 2nd place. Other common goods include consumer electronics, luxury handbags and watches, pharmaceuticals, computer hardware,designer sunglasses, golf clubs, automotive components and aerospace parts and music/movie DVD.

China is widely acknowledged to be ground zero for the production of fakes, accounting for 80% of all confiscated items by US Customs last year. The Internet is the Wild West for pirates because of the anonymity. Even established auction sites fell foul.Luxury jeweler, Tiffany filed a suit in 2004 against eBay for selling fakes.

As the biggest asset of a company is the brand, the companies are going all out to protect the brands. New Balance says it spends US$1 million to US$2 million a year on anti counterfeiting activities. A broad based efforts entails managing the supply chain to avoid misappropriation of information and materials, pursuing counterfeiters through civil or criminal suits, leveraging technology to make it harder to copy and educating about risks of piracy. Those risks range from lost revenues and jobs to sub standard products especially food that could cause ill health and death, and worse case scenario to fund the terrorists' activities!

So are you going to start buying originals or insist on fakes? By buying fakes, is it 'stealing'? Interesting to see some comments!

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