Large stock of illicit cigarettes and cash sized by authorities in Bristol UK

Of late, (HMRC) Her Majesty’s Revenue Customs has confiscated approximately 500000 suspected illicit cigarettes and around 700kg of hand-rolled tobacco in Bristol.

Officers from HMRC searched four residential addresses and two business premises on June 12 as a part of an investigation into cigarette and tobacco smuggling.

A spokesperson from HMRC said that £80,000 in cash was seized by the authorities. Five men and woman were also arrested on suspicion of falsely evading excise duty.

A woman was also arrested on suspicion of money laundering and another man arrested on suspicion of illegally evading excise duty.

Illicit white cigarettes have no legal market in the UK. These cigarettes are mass manufactured in factories in Russia and the East and are imported illegally to the UK. No duty is paid on these cigarettes and health warnings are also missing.

On the other hand, counterfeit cigarettes are illegally manufactured and sold by a party other than the original trademark or copyright holder.

Counterfeit hand-rolling tobacco is like cigarettes which are illegally manufactured and sold by a party other than the original trademark or copyright owner.

Source: bristolpost.co.uk

Counterfeits are losing sales and business in UAE

The number of counterfeit items has dropped down after Khaleej Times took a joint initiative against the presence of counterfeit goods at different locations like a raid on Karama shops.

Abdul, 40 who owns a shop for ladies’ bags and purses in Karama said that that he has faced a setback in his business. Earlier when he had opened the shop, he used to make Dh2,000 but now he makes only Dh100. Sometimes he is not able to sell a single item.

This is the third time he had opened a shop in Karama. Five years ago, the authorities had fined him Dh50,000 during a crackdown against fake products.

“After paying that hefty fine with great difficulty, I closed down my shop and went back to India for a few years.”

He further said that after paying the big fine he closed down his shop and went back to India. On the rising issue of fakes, he says, “Many years ago people used to display fake items at the counter but now they are hidden underground or inside secret basements. Many tourists still come to buy fake products they do not mind buying a copy.

Ahmad Almheiri, senior manager of the business protection department at the DED, said: “If they are selling in a secret apartment, it means they know that the DED is always in the market and that it’s hard to sell counterfeits in Dubai.”

Source: Khaleej Times

Cosmetic products in UK are the most counterfeited goods

According to a recent survey by global investigation firm Kroll, perfume and cosmetic products are the most counterfeited goods in the UK. The report states that cosmetic or beauty products were the sixth most counterfeited products after toys, chargers, clothing, bags and sports shoes.

The firm stated that duplicate consumer products are a growing part of the global economy and pose a risk to the economy and consumers. The outcomes of the counterfeit goods are dangerous and have many negative effects.

Benedict Hamilton, Managing Director at Kroll said, “We have seen how the counterfeiting of seemingly harmless clothing items such as jeans and t-shirts is actively contributing to the financing of global terrorist activity, so in addition to consumers’ health, there is also the broader world impact to consider.”

He also said that counterfeits don’t begin and end with the seller on the street; there is an entire supply chain in operation to create bogus goods and to stem the flow, we need to find the source.

On tackling the counterfeit goods, he said, “Only by following the chain of fake goods all the way up to those producing them and raising awareness of the problem, will we be able to safeguard against the potential dangers posed by counterfeits.”

Source: cosmeticsbusiness.com

The link between counterfeiting and organized crime

International law enforcement and market experts have established a close link between counterfeiting and other forms of criminal activities. It has been found that the counterfeiting business helps criminals to fuel other illegal activities and vice-versa. EUROPOL (European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation) has even warned that counterfeiting is an increasingly attractive avenue for organized crime syndicates to diversify and increase their illicit businesses.

It has also been found that counterfeiters use similar routes and modus operandi to supply counterfeit goods as they do to smuggle drugs, firearms and human trafficking. Profits from other crimes and illicit activities also help in the production and distribution of counterfeit goods. Many reports from different countries have established the fact that profits from crimes like drug trafficking and other crimes were used to promote the business of counterfeiting and, similarly proceeds from the sale of duplicate goods were used to promote the criminal’s other illicit activities.

One of the main reasons why criminals choose counterfeiting over other criminal activities is due to its favourable ratio between potential profits and possible risks. According to Executive Director, UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) Yuri Fedotov, “In comparison to other crimes such as drug trafficking, the production and distribution of counterfeit goods present a low-risk/high-profit opportunity for criminals. Counterfeiting feeds money laundering activities and encourages corruption. There is also evidence of some involvement or overlap with drug trafficking and other serious crimes.”

As per trade, reports counterfeiting is now placed amongst the highest income sources for organized criminal activities. Counterfeiting or duplication also helps in money laundering by providing a platform through which criminal organization can invest the proceeds of their illicit activities. In a nutshell, organized crime syndicates use counterfeiting as a medium to optimize their other criminal activities.

Countries involved in counterfeiting of US goods

One of the biggest reasons behind the US-China trade war is due to China’s involvement in the practice of unfair trading practices and IP theft to make counterfeit and cheap goods. The biggest hints of counterfeit items are that their prices are too good to be true. The total value of counterfeit items had a value of $1.2 billion.

The enforcement of IP laws is done by US Customs and Border Protection and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Homeland Security’s investigations branch is involved in bringing down the financial and welfare risks caused due to imports of such illicit products. Let’s have a look at the product seizures that violated US trademarks and copyrights across the world.

  • China: 48%
  • Hong Kong: 39%
  • Turkey: 2%
  • Canada: 2%
  • Taiwan: 2%
  • All others: 8%

Positive move

In the 1980s, China became a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization and began to strengthen its intellectual property framework and enact related laws. China stated in recent trade talks that its intellectual property royalties paid to the U.S. surged from $3.46 billion in 2011 to $7.2 billion in 2018.

What’s getting counterfeited?

The seizures of ripped-off intellectual property in the U.S. is only a fraction of all that is sold worldwide. The total seizures of counterfeit goods in the fiscal year 2017, with a retail value of $1.2 billion, down from the fiscal year 2016 seizures that totalled $1.38 billion.

International Patents

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, the U.S. and China file the most international patents under the Patent Cooperation Treaty.

Source: ocregister.com

Tank Road one of the hubs for counterfeit goods as per US authorities

In a recent development, US authorities have identified Tank Road in Delhi as one of the hubs for the sale of counterfeit goods and have asked the Indian government to take coordinated enforcement action. As per the US’ Notorious Markets List 33 online and 25 physical markets reportedly are breeding grounds for the sale of fake products. A US trade representative while commenting on the report said that Tank Road in Delhi remains on the list of popular places for the sale of counterfeit goods.

Fake products are further supplied from Tank Road to places such as Gaffar Market and Ajmal Khan road. The report states that the counterfeiting activity harms the American economy by undermining the innovation and IP rights of the rightful owners. An estimated 2.5% or nearly half a trillion dollars’ worth of global imports are counterfeit and pirated products.

The US trade representative also said that the wholesalers in the area operate without any fear and build their businesses over the years. The trade representative also urged to take sustained actions on the Tank road market located in Karol Bagh, previously listed markets and other non-listed markets as well.

The 2018 Notorious Markets List maintains its special focus on the distribution of pirated content and counterfeit goods online. This year, the list highlighted free trade zones and the role they may play in facilitating trade in counterfeit and pirated goods.

Source: (PTI) Deccan Herald

FICCI welcomes U.S Government’s action against counterfeits

The US President Donald Trump recently signed a memorandum on combatting the trafficking of counterfeit and pirated goods which will stop the sales of fake goods, especially on e-commerce platforms. In a statement applauding the work of US government, FICCI said that the Department of Homeland Security along with the Commerce Department, the federal agencies will create a report to curb fake goods in American marketplace within 201 days.

The report will determine the data, factors, market incentives and distortions which lead third-parties to involve in the trafficking of fake and pirated goods.

According to a study released by OECD, the business of fake and pirated products represents 3.3% of the global trade. The study also explains that the share of counterfeits has grown significantly posing a risk to the global economy. FICCI has been addressing the menace of illicit trade with regards to duplication, smuggling and piracy through its initiative CASCADE (Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy).

While speaking on the development Anil Rajput, Chairman FICCI CASCADE said, “This is a proactive step taken by the US President to curb the menace arising out of sale of counterfeits which adversely impacts the legal industry, government revenue and the health and safety of the people. Illicit trade also fuels organized crime. It threatens peace and stability worldwide, and hence all countries across the world must address the matter on war footing.”

FICCI CASCADE works in coordination with government, industry, enforcement agencies, media, legal experts and consumer organizations to develop awareness on counterfeiting and smuggling.

Source: Outlook India

Counterfeit goods represent 3.3% of the world trade

According to the latest report by OECD and EU’s Intellectual Property Office the trade in counterfeit goods has increased rapidly over the last few years and now represent 3.3 per cent of the global trade.

The report titled as  ‘Trends in Trade in counterfeit and Pirated Goods’ states the value of imported counterfeit goods around the world in 2016 was valued at $509 billion which increased from $461 billion in the year 2013. For the EU, the trade in fake goods represented 6.8 per cent of imports from non-EU countries up from 5 per cent in 2013.

The trade in counterfeit goods which violate trademarks and copyrights can generate profits for organized crimes at the expense of companies and governments. Counterfeit items like medicines, auto parts, toys, food, cosmetic brands and electrical goods have many health and safety concerns.

As per the report, some of the most counterfeited goods confiscated in the year 2016 included footwear, clothing, leather goods, electrical equipment, watches, medical equipment, perfumes, toys, jewellery and pharmaceuticals. Officials also pointed out that there was an increase in counterfeit musical instruments and construction materials. A majority of the fake goods originate in China, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Singapore, Thailand and India.

Source: sdcexec.com

Durham Trading Standards clamps down on fake goods

As the post-Christmas bargain is on a high a new scheme has been put into action to battle growing business of fake goods on social media. Durham Trading Standards has launched a new scheme to protect the local customers and small business from illegal items being sold on e-commerce and social media platforms.

The real deal online programme ensures that social media groups do not promote the sale of fake good and other illicit products.

Officers are in touch with the administrators of the group to make them aware of their legal responsibilities and motivate them to follow the real deal rules.

Administrators are asked to allow trading standards officers to join the group and agree to a set of rules including the prohibition of the sale of fake and illegal goods which are:

  • To abide by the information from IP rights owners and their representatives who highlight the sale of fake goods.
  • To notify trading standards if they believe that fake goods are being sold within the group and to exclude the sellers of these goods.
  • To highlight notices and warnings posted by trading standards.
  • To make it sure that all members of the group are aware of its fake free policy.

Source: ITV.com

Amazon takes measures to stop fake sellers

Over the past few years, there has been a rise of counterfeit products on the e-commerce platform which is worth $18 billion. Amidst this scenario, the e-commerce giant Amazon is taking necessary measures to clamp down on fake sellers and weed out potential duplicate products form its marketplace.

Amazon which considers India as one of the most important markets is witnessing a big number of verified sellers who are listing duplicate products across online marketplaces in the country. However, a top company executive said that Amazon was ready to take on the so-called bad actors.

Dharmesh Mehta Vice President for consumer and brand protection said that the rate which bad actors are attempting to fraud and abuse customers and sellers is definitely increasing much faster than the rate at which the business is growing.

One out of every five products sold on e-commerce platforms is counterfeit, as per a recent survey by LocalCircles.

The top e-commerce players including Flipkart, Amazon India, Snapdeal and ShopClues have lately received notices form Drug Controller General of India to remove the sellers on their platforms which were dealing with counterfeit cosmetic products.

For seller onboarding, Amazon has put in place machine learning models to detect potential risks of the seller’s account and check products and prices along with many other variables that fit the model. This helps Amazon eliminate unverified players at an early stage.

Source: Live Mint