The fight against illicit tabacco products continues – The UK Borders Agency and HM Revenue & Customs officers have arrested two men on suspicion of smuggling 10 million cigarettes into the UK. The smuggled cigarettes, which arrived in the UK by cargo container from Dubai, had evaded around £1.8 million in duty.
The confiscated cigarettes will apparently be incinerated, providing power to the National Grid.
The Intellectual Property Office has published its annual IP Crime report, showing that the sale and distribution of counterfeit and pirated goods over the internet has increased over the last year. It cites a number of major counterfeiting cases including an £11m confiscation order secured by Enfield Trading Standards in May 2010 and the jailing of six men who used high-tech equipment to produce 24 fake bottles of vodka a minute.
The report highlights that counterfeiting is a continuing problem for brands in a wide variety of industries and that much more needs to be done to prevent the production, import and sale of counterfeit goods.
Major brands are increasingly being targeted by unscrupulous Chinese businesses seeking to profit from other companies’ brand reputation. Following the recent outing of several fake Apple Stores in Kunming, CTV have reported on other fake stores across China, ranging from furntiture outlets to coffee shops.
This kind of forgery damages brand reputation and value. The Chinese government and brand owners need to take steps to overcome this apparently increasing phenomenon.
According to the China Daily, analysts say that a third of local seed companies sell normal seeds, claiming that they are superior breeds or genetically modified. Such activity leaves farmers disappointed with poor crop yields and global biotechnology giants, like Monsanto and Pioneer, out of pocket from lost sales.
This is yet another example of the threat to brand protection that all sectors currently face. Brand owners need to think carefully about how they can protect their brand reputation and the perceived value of their product.
A blogger in China has photographed a number of allegedly fake Apple stores in Kunming city, China. This shows the lengths that people will go to in order to make money out of illicit products. It also supports those that suggest the problem of counterfeiting is indemic in Chinese society. Go to BirdAbroad to see the photos and all the comments.
The European Commission has published its 2010 Report on EU customs enforcement of intellectual property rights, stating that there were 79,112 detentions of goods suspected of infringing Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) leading to 103.3 million seized items with a domestic retail value of €1.1 billion.
What were the most frequently seized articles?
- Cigarettes – 34%
- Office stationary – 9%
- Other tobacco products – 8%
- Labels, tags and emblems – 8%
- Clothing – 7%
- Toys – 7%
85% of the seized goods originated from China. The report illustrates the continuing problem of counterfeit smuggling into the EU.
Louis Vuitton and Burberry, the two well known luxury fashion brands, have been awarded a total of CAD $2.5m in the Federal Court of Canada following their successful action against three companies that had been manufacturing and selling counterfeit designer handbags in Canada.
Valerie Sonnier, Global Intellectual Property Director for Louis Vuitton said, “This is a landmark award and decisive victory for Louis Vuitton. We are pleased that the Federal Court in Canada recognizes the importance of protecting intellectual property, and awarding high compensatory damages as well as full punitive and exemplary damages as a strong punishment and an equally strong deterrent against counterfeiting and infringing activity. This decision also serves to highlight the need to make trade-mark counterfeiting a crime in Canada and grant Customs in Canada much needed ex officio authority to seize counterfeit goods at the border. We hope this decision will send a message to counterfeiters the world over that Louis Vuitton will aggressively implement its zero tolerance policy against counterfeiting.”
You can read the full press release at BusinessWire
In a twist of irony, a machine designed to identify counterfeit money has allegedly caused a fire in a Bank of America branch that caused $1 million (USD) of damage. According to ABC News, the bank is suing the faulty machine’s manufacturer…
The Chinese embassy in Washington is apparently refusing to give visas to US officials wanting to visit China to investigate counterfeit electronic parts, as reported by the Lincoln Tribune. US Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has hinted at the Chinese embassy’s reluctance to grant US access without an official Chinese escort. The US wants to investigate Chinese electronics manufacturers after it emerged that the U.S. Defense Department has unwittingly purchased counterfeit components for use in various crucial systems, including missile defense and flight control computers.
A new website has launched which seeks to reduce the impact of counterfeit goods being sold online by providing a trusted place to find websites selling genuine products. An Organised Crime Task Force study in 2005 found that 13% of people in the UK had bought fakes thinking that they were real. The new website, www.brand-i.org, is one way of reducing this figure but the problem of counterfeits is likely to continue unless they are stopped at the source.