Counterfeiting is the biggest vice threatening the world economy in the 21st century. Its affects all sections of the society in an unbiased manner, ruining brands and their credibility, seriously damaging their users (think faulty aircraft parts that cause accidents, contaminated baby formula that gives little or no nourishment, fake and toxic foodstuffs that harms the one consuming it) and rendering workforce unemployed (owing to huge losses to their employers caused by counterfeiting.) All in all, counterfeiting does not spare anyone of its untoward consequences.
Counterfeiting used to be a small cottage industry once and it was felt that as more advanced authentication systems would get developed, it could be eradicated from the face of the world economy. But unfortunately, this industry has only become more and more sophisticated over the years, fuelling already existing problems of organized crime, terrorism and illegal trafficking of drugs and weapons.
Let us try to unearth the network of this illegal trade with the help of some stats and the reasons why it has continued to exist.
Reports suggest that China is the hub of the counterfeiting industry with 86% of world imports of physical counterfeited goods originating there. This is largely due to the availability of cheap labor in the country with lax labor laws. The other countries constituting the top exporters of fake goods include Turkey, India, Singapore, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Counterfeiting is also on the rise in African countries as the consumer industry in the continent is booming.
It is interesting to note that counterfeiting exists in the most in emerging economies. This is because of the reason that these countries have the desired infrastructure for companies to outsource manufacturing from them, but at the same time they tend to have loopholes in governance which gives leeway to counterfeiting of products.
The nations whose corporations have suffered the most at the hand of counterfeiting in the form of trade of fake goods are the United States with 20%, Italy at 15% and France and Switzerland both landing a 12%. While footwear is the most counterfeited type of good in the United States, infringed trademarks exist even on natural food items like strawberries and apples. Cases of counterfeited money are also prevalent in US since the 80’s, with one breed of counterfeited notes called the “Superdollar,” a $100 counterfeited bill made of high quality that looks extremely similar to a real bill. The total value of counterfeited currency stood at $4.5 million from 2002-2005 in US.
The most commonplace reason for consumers to buy fake products like handbags and watches is that the original designer product tends to be rare or expensive or both. Thus as a corollary it follows that the more expensive or well-renowned a product/brand is, the more chances that it will be counterfeited. Italy, the city known for its world-class fashion labels has long remained a victim of counterfeiting. According to a, a whopping $28.7 billion is the value of losses that happen to European brands every year due to the illegal trade of knock-offs!
Today brands worldwide are investing more and more in anti-counterfeiting solutions like 3d Hologram Stickers, Holographic Shrink Sheets, Holographic Wads, and Holographic Transparent Laminates etc. to safeguard their goods. But there is still a lot more that is to be done to completely eliminate it. Let us all vow to relinquish this illicit trade step- by- step by creating more awareness about its ill-effects and the methods we can adopt to fight it.