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Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Counterfeit clothes for charity

This Kat has often wondered 'what happens to all the counterfeit designer clothes seized by customs or trading standards?' In your 'IP feel-good story of the week', this Kat is pleased to inform you of a scheme under which counterfeit clothes are donated to a charity, His Church. They are then rebranded and distributed to the homeless and vulnerable as gifts. In an interview with the BBC, His Church co-ordinator Richard Humphrey discussed how Tommy Hilfiger had asked him to rebrand some counterfeit jeans which had been bought in good faith by a French supermarket but were later revealed to be either pirated or stolen and had to be removed from sale. Apparently Tommy Hilfiger labelled His Church as 'the world leaders in rebranding counterfeit clothes'.

In six years since commencing operations, His Church has convinced 90% of UK Trading Standards authorities to hand over counterfeit clothes to them. Customs officials even went so far as to give His Church the industrial sewing machines, which it now uses for the rebranding, after they were also seized from clothing counterfeiters.

What about heavily branded counterfeit items which cannot simply be patched over? In these situations, Mr Humphrey states:
'We have permission to send them outside the EU, often to Africa ... But we have a duty of care and trust. We have to keep an audit trail of every single item of clothing, where it's come from, exactly where it goes - even down to a pair of underpants.'
This Kat applauds this as a cost effective and feel-good solution to the problem of what to do with counterfeit clothing. It saves customs and trading standards paying for storage of the items while awaiting a court order and for incineration or landfill costs once the items have been established as counterfeits. With many individuals facing financial hardship as a result of the global financial crisis, the scheme allows His Church to distribute new clothing to arguably those in society who need it most.

For further information, please contact Richard at or call 01933 623 236.


Anonymous said...

For an even more Christmassy "fakes-into-ploughshares" story, I've heard about a Dutch charity that makes plush animals out of seized fake Ugg boots. Can someone confirm that?

Nicola said...

And they could recycle these fake paper bags:

Anonymous said...

Glad to see the goods are not destroyed. Fake Ugg boots should be re-used properly, not turned into stuffed animals. Do the fake Uggs include the real, traditional ugg boots made in Australia?

Shame Ugg aren't subject to protection based on origin, but then the trademarked boots couldn't be sold because they are made in China or Malaysia.

Meanwhile, I hope His Church are not infringing my trademark "Not" by applying them to their goods: "Not Tommy Hilfiger", "Not Levis" etc.

Anonymous said...

Paper bags are not sold per se, but given for free to the shooper who has purchased an item of clothing. Does TM law protect these bags?

What if people sold "Chanel" stickers for application to blank paper bags? Or even "Channel" stickers with each letter individually applicable?

What I wnat to know is, does anybody actually buy those expensive desginer (LV) handbags anymore knowing when they must know everyone will think it is a fake anyway? Arguably, the real thing could be accused of passing off as the fakes have more of a reputation.

Anonymous said...

Feels very good, but I worry for the poor brandowners.

Where the heavily branded goods are donated to His Church, does the brandowner consent to this? If so, does that not exhaust their EU rights (Peak Holdings), or is that all changed now provided they aren't for resale in the EU (L'Oreal v eBay)? Or is there a clever way around this?

Graham Barker said...

Great idea, but I wonder what precautions there are against converting them back into counterfeits and sneaking them back into the supply chain. If it's mainly a matter of relabeling it ought not to be too difficult and audit trails can be made to peter out.

Tomasz Rychlicki said...

Here's totally different story:

Anonymous said...

Great idea - the website link in this article is to a different "His Church" that does not provide this service. The actual organisation does not have a website (I am told this is due to security - they house a large quantity of counterfeit goods in their warehouse) but they can be contacted on 01933 623236.

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