Counterfeits and knock-offs are often used synonymously but they are totally different. The difference is so thin that people usually use the two in lieu of one another. If you too get confused amongst the two, here’s a quick definition and understanding of each.
Counterfeits are unauthorised replicas with extremely close copies of labels, logos, or other distinctive markings. As for a knock-off, it might resemble another item but isn’t identical. Knock-offs cannot be called copies but inspired designs of the original one.
Counterfeit infringes upon the trademark of that product mark. These are illegal, and manufacturing or selling them can directly attract paying the damages to the trademark owner. Counterfeits are strictly defined by laws. Knock-offs are not illegal but can be challenged in court by the brand whose design inspiration is taken. They are used to describe those products that imitate other products but may or may not be illegal under trademark laws.
Similarly, a counterfeiter is one who intentionally and identically copies a registered trademark and uses a fake logo or name on goods that are not genuine. These products are considered illegal because they are clearly intended to fool or confuse consumers at the point of sale, and are a fraud on the public. Not just the manufacturers, but people involved in the selling of counterfeit goods are also counterfeiters.
“Knock off” is a larger category, and can include products that have a confusingly similar overall look and appearance of a well-known product, but which do not contain any identical logos or federally registered brand names. Those who sell such products may still be sued by the trademark owner because these products can still deceive the customers, even if they do not contain counterfeit logos or brand names. However, these types of “knockoffs” cannot be criminally prosecuted.
The matter of fact is that both producers and sellers of counterfeit goods are liable to be prosecuted legally. If you have an eye for detail and can easily identify between an original and a counterfeit, there are quite less chances of getting duped. But if you are a beginner, you can still fall prey for counterfeits. So better you do a detailed study of your favourite brands and know the authorised stores and merchants so that you are not fooled while purchasing.