That pair of Jimmy Choo knockoffs you picked up at a bargain price from a sidewalk vendor or that website that looked an awful lot like the famed shoemaker's despite a few typos may make your gams look great. But, they could cost you in the end. Counterfeiting, the act of manufacturing or distributing goods under someone else's name and without their permission, is both a state and federal crime for good reason.
While getting a great price on a lookalike product may seem a victimless crime, it is anything but. Here are five of the top reasons why:
- Risk of injury: Because counterfeit goods typically are made with cheaper, lesser quality components, finished products can prove dangerous, putting a buyer's health and safety at risk.
- Risk of fraud: Websites operated by counterfeiters are notorious for using malware to steal and share personal and financial information including credit card numbers, addresses, phone numbers and social security numbers, placing consumers at risk for identity theft and financial ruin.
- Costs to communities: Because counterfeiters often don't pay taxes, they pose a big-picture risk to municipalities by taking monies from schools, hospitals, parks, infrastructure and social programs.
- Support of other illegal activities: Counterfeiters often are involved in other serious crimes. In fact, law enforcement agencies have linked profits from sales of various counterfeit products to child labor, drug trafficking, organized crime and terrorism.
- Damage to legitimate businesses: Legitimate companies spend significant time, money and human resources to develop, market and distribute high-quality products to consumers. Counterfeiters undermine those efforts, leaving reputable companies with lost sales, diminished profits and damaged reputations. The cost gets passed onto others in the forms of lower wages, lost jobs and higher prices.
Clues pointing to potentially counterfeit products include unusually low prices, low quality or absent packaging, websites with grammatical and spelling errors and sales in atypical environments.
In Fiscal Year 2013, the Department of Homeland Security seized counterfeit goods valued at more than $1.7 billion at various US borders. That figure doesn't count the millions of bogus goods made and sold domestically. Experts say the problem will only grow with increased consumer demand. If you believe that your product is being copied and sold without authorization, contact an experienced trademark and patent attorney with Orlando's Daniel Law Offices at 866-37PATENT.