Blog: Leonie BarrieFeedback on fakes

Leonie Barrie | 19 December 2006

A blog I wrote earlier this month about a ban on Chinese tourists wearing counterfeit clothes overseas touched a nerve with Robert Lewis, president of global brand management group Concord International Corp.

He’s keen to develop a dialogue on the problem of counterfeit goods and believes it won't change “until business, government and the public get together on this issue. And don't count on help from the governments of the countries where the counterfeiting takes place, until they are pressured into it.” Robert believes that North Americans have now become too accustomed to this illegal activity – and says “the only difference between the sale of counterfeit goods and illegal drugs into is that drugs harm the user, while counterfeiting harms an economy.”

Here are Robert’s thoughts on the issue.
“After reading your blog concerning the region in China that has ordered its citizens not to wear or carry counterfeit product abroad, I felt compelled to write this email.

“It’s very generous of them to do this, isn’t it? The fact that there are US$450bn worth of counterfeit products manufactured throughout the world, with 67% of it coming from China, should unfortunately be much more alarming than it seems to be. There are often now more fake goods being produced than real ones.

“But sadly, North Americans have become so accustomed to purchasing cheap imports that it no longer seems to bother many people to buy, wear or carry counterfeit items any more, especially if they can get a deal!

“For example, there are now more fake name-brand women’s handbags being purchased (whether in the US or in China) by American women, than real ones, and even if the authentic products may definitely be overpriced, they are still the intellectual property, trademarks and patents of companies that have spent their own time and money producing them.

“As people have become so used to purchasing fake goods, it becomes easier for the countries producing these fakes to justify their existence. However, what happens when the Chinese or other exporters now turn to the foods we import, or products our children use?

“I remember that many years ago, while living in Europe, there were some manufacturers in Spain that decided to mix motor oil in with the olive oil they were selling, in order to generate higher profits. Many adults and children became tragically disfigured, and the public was ready to hang these offenders.

“Until North America and Europe finally tell the Chinese, Russians or other counterfeit producing countries that they won’t allow any of their country’s goods to be imported, until they realistically halt these activities, the problem of counterfeiting will grow progressively worse. What do you think the Chinese would do, if all of a sudden they had nowhere to sell their goods?

“The large Chinese factories must keep producing in order to employ their people, and so whether they manufacture real goods or counterfeit ones, makes very little difference to them any more. And yet, the Chinese government recently went after some of their own manufacturers when they began producing fake Beijing Olympic merchandise. This one hit close to home!

“In the end, the more Americans keep purchasing counterfeit goods, the more it will end up degrading our own integrity.”

What do you think? Why not step into the debate too, and share your point of view with us?


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