|The FTC: now it's reading|
the IP Finance blog!
Thank you, Chris McLeod (Squire, Sanders & Dempsey (UK) LLP) for this link to Brand-i, which claims to be
You can use our directory to help you find popular designer or branded clothing, perfume, shoes, music, sunglasses, etc. You can trust the online stores we’ve listed as they have been provided with the consent of the brands themselves. Brand-i is an independent directory, but is supported by the Trading Standards Institute, so you know we are a reliable source of information. What’s more, you can use Brand-i to report suspicious webstores by clicking on our Report a Site button. GO SHOP WITH CONFIDENCE...".The Kat -- who is quite a cautious online shopper who never knowingly clicks sponsored ads if it isn't for the purposes of his legal research -- wonders whether he would ever use this site in preference to the website of a long-established and trusted retailer for his regular purchases, but he does like the Report a Site button idea and thinks it's worth bringing to the attention of all his British readers. Merpel hopes that Brand-i will provide regular reports on how often this button is used and as to what happens to the reported sites. If the answers are "not often" and "not much", another good idea will wither on the vines of indifference and inaction.
Fashion+IP LinkedIn group, to Kent County Council's Trading Standards site which has some guidance on "How to Spot Fakes". The guidance is reproduced here, not least because many of the readers of this weblog are consumers -- and a good number of them have few qualms about purchasing fakes if their comments to him and emails are a reflection of their attitude:
"Price, Place & Packaging are all indicators of whether something is genuine, or whether you may be at risk. Supermarkets, well-known retailers and brand-name or familiar retail websites are much less likely to sell fakes. But a vast range of products for sale in the street, in temporary shops, markets or in cyberspace could be counterfeit, and very dangerous.
Be aware of discount stores, market stalls and Internet auction sites, they may all be prime sources of counterfeits. By law, toy packaging must display the CE mark and manufacturer's or importer's details. Also look for the BSI Kite and Lion quality marks and make sure that toys come in the original sealed packaging. Always buy from reputable stockists.
Examine the quality and cleanliness of gift cartons, bottles and labels. Look closely for spelling and artwork mistakes, especially brand logos and designs. Pay particular attention to the bottle closure and its anti-tamper evident device. Look carefully for any sign that the bottle may have been opened previously (eg puncture holes in the lid). Be wary of brands you do not recognise [This raises the threshold for new market entrants, doesn't it?]. Always buy from a reputable, licensed stockist or duty-free outlet.
Be wary of products with low-quality packaging, no logo [generic?], or mis-spelt brand names. Again, the biggest warning sign is the vendor. As genuine fragrances are high-end products, they are mostly sold in large, reputable retail outlets – distrust the man on the street promising a bargain, or the auction site selling many different brands. Never buy sight unseen; always buy from a trustworthy source.
Poor quality packaging [If only this were a reliable test of fakes. Has no-one from Kent ever had the genuine product leak out into his or her shopping bag?]. Check manufacturers' address details and look out for incorrect spelling. Trust your senses - if it doesn’t look or smell right, you could be putting yourself and your family at risk.
Watch out for 'designer' sunglasses sold unpackaged, or in flimsy unmarked plastic sleeves. Test the hinges - they will be inferior in fake versions. A lack of peel-off certificate - usually a small label affixed to one of the lenses - proving UV protection is another pointer. A big giveaway with fake sunglasses is you can just scratch off the name [this is one area in which consumers surely are often highly complicit: so long as the shades look cool on the wearer, admiring onlookers will be impressed -- and how many people will dare try to scratch the name of someone else's sunglasses?].
Fake cigarettes usually have packaging that resembles the brands they imitate, but the cigarettes themselves often taste very different. Look closely for spelling mistakes in the small print on the box. Other clues are foreign or mis-spelt safety warnings [wouldn't it be strange if the only people who ever read them were doing so in search of spelling mistakes?] - or no safety warnings at all. Many sources of fakes use intensive labour to make the boxes by hand so their construction and the quality of the paper and glue are often noticeably inferior. Always buy from a reputable stockist or duty-free outlet.
Do not buy medicines on-line, and always buy on prescription from your doctor from whichever nearby pharmacy the surgery recommends [recommending nearby pharmacies is a controversial topic which can lead to distortion of local competition in urban areas where there are several pharmacies within a short radius of the prescribing doctor].
If a film is still being shown at the cinema it won’t be available on DVD [tricky one: the DVD may be genuine but released in another country in which the film has already done the rounds before its release elsewhere]. People like Disney have holograms on the cover to show the product is genuine - as holograms can’t be photocopied.
Look out for poor quality stitching and inaccurate logos. Labels must have an indication of the fibre content (eg 100% cotton). If a designer item is cheap - ask yourself why. (eg don’t expect to pay £10 for a designer pair of jeans!) [Merpel sighs, this is a sign of the times. In the olden days designer jeans were generally cheap because they'd been stolen ...].
Check for hallmarks [the Kat suspects that the public's level of familiarity with hallmarks is lamentably low: how many ordinary shoppers can read a hallmark and know what it means? There's an online encyclopaedia of hallmarks here, but the Kat doesn't find it handy for shopping with]. Buy from a reputable source. Ask yourself… ‘Is it cheap because it’s a bargain or because it’s a fake?’
REMEMBER …. IF IT SEEMS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE - IT PROBABLY IS!"