A report released by US customs last week reveals that the number of counterfeit fashion seizures in the USA was down in 2012 from 2011. Handbags accounted for the lions share of seizures with $511.2 million worth of fake handbags and wallets being seized in the year ending December 2012. In addition, $186.9 million worth of counterfeit watches and jewellery were also seized. As in 2011, China was the source of the majority of the knock-off items. According to WWD, A total of 697 websites facilitating the sale of counterfeit goods were taken down over the last 12 months in the battle against fake products.
But does the reduction in counterfeits seized represent an actual reduction in counterfeits? The anonymity that the internet affords sellers of counterfeit goods, along with technological developments in the manufacturing process, have created unprecedented enforcement challenges for authorities. The trade in counterfeit goods is now a multi-billion pound industry and is estimated to be worth £1.3 billion in the UK alone, the majority of which is sold online. Online counterfeit websites can disappear at the press of a button making it impossible to catch and stop many of the sellers. Unfortunately for many trademark owners, the more valuable a trademark becomes, the more susceptible it is to counterfeiting. Ironically, the signature monogram canvas trademarked by Louis Vuitton was created to prevent counterfeiting yet today, Louis Vuitton fakes account for 18% of counterfeit accessories seized in the European Union. Remember, counterfeit goods are not a victimless crime. Fakes are never in fashion!