Intellectual property theft can mean different things from copyright infringement to patent theft and is a very complex area to navigate with many different licences and regulations. The theft of intellectual property can be costly in the immediate term with loss of sales or market share but can also cause long term and irreparable damage to the brand or business reputation.
However, the damage caused by intellectual property theft can have a much wider impact on consumers and the general public when it comes to copyright and trademark infringement. The misuse of these trusted stamps is a cause we take very seriously at Insight Investigations given the huge threat it poses to the safety of millions of people in the UK.
In the lead up to Christmas, copyright and trademark infringement ramps up into overdrive, with even more fake goods flooding the retail marketplace both online and on the high-street. Fake goods are often created and distributed by highly organised crime gangs and the sale of such products funds criminal activity in many forms here in the UK. These individuals use the Christmas trading period as an opportunity to sell dangerous products with little to no safety or durability testing, to people who are looking for the most sought after presents at the best prices.
This year in particular, the risk of purchasing counterfeit goods is higher than ever due to the COVID–19 pandemic. Experts predict there to be a huge influx of shoppers using online retailers where before they would simply head to their trusted department store or high street chain. This in-experience in using online retailers can often lead to purchasing products which simply aren’t what they claim to be.
Counterfeit products historically could only be found on market stalls or at car boot sales as criminals avoided the spotlight of the high-street, however with the advances of online and social retail there has been a surge in fake goods sold on e-commerce websites, aggregators and marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon as well as social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
Sellers of counterfeit goods can now hide in plain sight due to the anonymity of online retail and with more people shopping online this Christmas, consumers must protect themselves. What can seem like the real deal can often turn out to be badly made products which won’t last past January, or in severe cases fake goods can become a choking or fire hazard and even contain toxic substances, posing significant risk to families across the country.
But it’s not just online where people need to have their wits about them. With the retail sector one of the hardest industries hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, independent shop owners and market stall holders may be inclined to breach copyright and trademark infringement in order to recoup lost revenues and once again capitalise on the highly lucrative ‘golden quarter’ of trading, with counterfeit goods.
With most consumers feeling that once they walk into a bricks and mortar shop everything must be legitimate, it can often be easy to be tempted to purchasing goods which seem above board, but in actual fact are fake products.
Our team at Insight Investigations has investigated fake and counterfeit goods for local and government agencies as well as individual brands and businesses. Some of those most copied products in our experience include:
Fake designer goods
Whether it’s accessories and handbags, clothing or shoes, one of the most counterfeited products are designer goods which in legitimate shops come with an exorbitantly high price tag. A quick search online or a visit to a market stall and you’ll find an abundance of Nike, Michael Kors, Gucci, Ugg and Rayban goods (to name just a few) for bargain prices, yet masquerading as the real deal. These products can be incredibly convincing with the right paperwork and packaging, but product quality is often very low and more dangerously can be made from materials which contain toxic substances.
Fake electrical goods
We may want the latest kitchen gadget or hair styling tool and think if it looks like the real deal then that’s good enough. However, the risks when buying counterfeit electrical items can lead to catastrophic situations. All products which are sold at reputable retailers from well-known brands are tested for both how effectively they can do the job but also how safe they are to be used within the home. Without the relevant testing and safety checks, a simple purchase of hair straighteners could cause a huge electrical fire.
Fake beauty products and cosmetics
As the trend of beauty influencers continues to rise and the use of beauty products and makeup skyrockets year on year, millions of consumers are looking for the best names in beauty at affordable prices. With designer beauty brands such as Mac and Chanel being a hefty investment, knock off versions are now readily available and it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s not. The use of beauty products which have not been tested can cause severe skin irritation and even blindness, so buying from a reputable retailer is essential.
One of the most pertinent areas as Christmas fast approaches is that of fake toys. Parents and Grandparents across the country want to ensure their little ones have the presents on their Santa’s list come Christmas day but trying to save money on these products and purchasing from non-reputable retailers can have serious and potentially lethal consequences. All toys on sale in the UK go through rigorous licencing and testing to ensure they meet EU and UK safety regulations which ensure all toys are safe for the particular age range to which they are recommended. When it comes to the safety of children it is always advised that buying direct from the brand or through a reputable online retailer is the best way to purchase.
Whether you are a government agency, brand or business and suspect counterfeit goods activity, or more widely the theft of intellectual property, one of our specialist IP team can help you to establish the best course of action. Our investigators are available 24/7 for a free consultation to discuss your situation.
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