Myth #1 – Counterfeits affect only some products and industries
No manufacturer and no industry are immune to having their products counterfeited.
Counterfeit products are not limited to brands like Nike, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton, nor are they limited to sneakers and luxury handbags. Almost every product is counterfeited, it is just a question of profitability.
In the U.S., watches and jewelry accounted for 15% of seizures by Customs and Border Patrol according to a CBP annual report. Apparel and accessories accounted for 14%, handbags, and wallets for 13%, footwear for 12%, consumer electronics 10%, pharmaceuticals 6%, and so on.
Counterfeits not only plague B2C industries but also increasingly the B2B sector. For example, the agrochemical industry, which includes products like pesticides, is a target for counterfeiters.
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Myth #2 – The cost of counterfeiting is only economic
It a mistake to view the cost of counterfeiting merely as a money issue. It is true that the economic cost is substantial for brands, countries, jobs, and often shoppers.
But more importantly, counterfeits can cause health and safety issues. There are numerous ways in which counterfeits are potentially harmful to us. Counterfeit make-up can contain mercury, cyanide, rat poison, and other hazardous materials that can affect your health.
Counterfeit chargers can have higher risks of electrocution or fire hazards for unsuspecting customers around the world. Fake technology presents safety risks, and higher failure rates can sometimes undermine entire systems and even national security.
In the U.S., an electronics distributor was arrested for allegedly selling counterfeit integrated circuits. According to the charge, “the use, malfunction, and failure of which were likely to cause serious bodily injury and death, the disclosure of classified information, impairment of combat operations, and other significant harm to a combat operation, a member of the Armed Forces, and to national security,” as reported by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Counterfeit agrochemicals may also be a threat to farmers, consumers, and the environment. Automotive counterfeits can be any automotive part, including airbags, brake pads, and wheels. Every counterfeit automotive part is potentially dangerous. There are various reasons for the safety risks, such as the fact that counterfeit parts are usually not made in accordance with the brand’s standards and may result in a part failure or affect a vehicle system.
Even if a product is Made in the U.S., we cannot know for sure. Unsafe materials in the supply chain can result in risks. Therefore, we should all be aware of the potential danger.
Myth #3 – Counterfeiters are not found in my trusted marketplace
Counterfeits are everywhere. Many counterfeits were reported on Amazon. Since Amazon operates as an intermediary between buyers and sellers, it is protected under the intermediary shield. The counterfeit and piracy problem does not only relate to amazon.com but also Amazon’s domains worldwide.
Many fake goods are sold by third-party sellers. Sellers on Amazon can add products to existing listings and offer Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), which gives them false credibility. Amazon does have a no-counterfeits policy, as well as tools and programs geared towards brand owners proactively protecting their intellectual property rights.
For further information see: Amazon’s Anti-Counterfeit Programs. It says a lot about the scale of the counterfeit problem even on trusted platforms.
Our tip: when shopping online, it is crucial to look at the seller and hopefully find sellers you can trust.
Myth #4 – Counterfeiters are easy to spot, so I will not get scammed
Users and buyers who believe it can’t happen to them make this counterfeiting myth highly prevalent. The truth is that counterfeiters are getting more sophisticated, and scammers are very convincing. What makes it even more difficult is that counterfeits are sold through the same online channels as genuine goods and gray market goods.
Yet, many believe that they can easily spot a counterfeit with signs such as a price that is too good to be true, shipping times, misspellings, poor packaging, or poor quality of products.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these myths.
Price: Many sellers of counterfeit products charge market prices to fool customers into believing they are buying the genuine item. They may also offer the item for a reasonable discount to secure the sale.
Shipping times: Counterfeiters use different methods to offer rapid fulfillment. They may make multiple smaller shipments and put everything together (product, packaging, labels) domestically to avoid long shipping times. When selling on Amazon, they can offer their products with Fulfilled by Amazon, which means they ship the fake products to be stored in an Amazon warehouse until purchased.
Spelling errors: Counterfeiters know that packaging is significant, and they are increasingly making it identical to the real thing. Technological advancements make it easier to make the packaging very convincing.
Quality: Although some poor-quality fakes are easy to spot, many fakes are almost identical to the original. From chargers to sneakers and luxury goods, super-fakes can mislead even savvy shoppers.
Made in the U.S.: Shoppers may also believe that if the product is Made in the U.S. or one of the EU countries it is not counterfeited. However, products may be labeled falsely just like they can be otherwise counterfeited.
Even serial numbers, tags, and certificates of authenticity do not mean that products are real.
Myth #5 – Counterfeits have bad reviews, and we can trust the stars
Fraudulent reviews make the star rating and customer reviews hard to trust. Even seller ratings are not a good enough indication regarding who to trust. Both product reviews and seller reviews can be fake. Also, some sellers make efforts to damage competitors with bad reviews.
Be suspicious if there are many 5-star ratings, unverified ratings, or a large number of ratings posted around the same time.
Our tip: read the reviews and not only look at the stars.
The counterfeit problem is growing. With time, counterfeiters are becoming more sophisticated and counterfeits more difficult to spot.
Fighting counterfeits helps to mitigate health and safety risks for consumers, secure the revenue of legitimate brands, protect brand reputation, support innovation and R&D, and increase consumer confidence in e-commerce.
There are different ways to curb the counterfeit problem, and we can help you with custom-tailored solutions.
Wiser Market is an online brand protection agency that uses innovative technology and unique know-how to fight counterfeiters and protect your brand, your authorized distributers and consumers across online marketplaces, eCommerce platforms and social networks.
Wiser Market’s online brand protection solution defends your brand’s intellectual property, revenue, and reputation, resulting in an over 90% success rate.
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Is it true that most counterfeit goods come from China?
China is indeed the biggest source of counterfeit goods.
According to the 2019 annual report from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), more than 80% of all seized goods that infringed intellectual property rights came from either China or Hong Kong.
Do all fake goods pose a health risk?
While many counterfeit goods pose a health risk to buyers and systems, not all do. A fake handbag, for example, is most likely not a risk to human health.
Are all fakes of bad quality?
No. A growing category of “super fakes” are almost identical to the genuine products. They can be of excellent quality and look like the originals, often difficult to tell apart unless by experts.