Counterfeits: More Trouble than They Are Worth

By Maria Cheung

Reviewed by Jennifer Williams

According to a Women’s Wear Daily article, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized 16 domain names of websites selling counterfeit clothes and accessories on the internet. Undercover federal officials purchased counterfeit items including shoes, boots, sneakers, jackets, shirts, hats and sunglasses from the suspected online retailers. The thirteen brands that fell victim to the counterfeiters included: Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Lacoste, New Era, Nike, The North Face, Oakley, Puma, Ralph Lauren, Ray-Ban, Sons of Anarchy, Tory Burch and UGG.

“American business is under assault from counterfeiters,” said ICE director John Morton. “These counterfeits represent a triple threat by delivering shoddy and sometimes dangerous goods into commerce, by funding organized criminal activities, and by denying Americans good-paying jobs.”

Ryan Breen, 31, of Savannah, N.Y. was among those arrested and charged with using the Internet to traffic in counterfeit goods. Federal officials said Breen was the owner and operator of a website that sold unauthorized apparel from the FX Network series “Sons of Anarchy.” The site sold counterfeit T-shirts using the show’s trademark brand without the permission of Fox, the parent company of the FX Network.  If convicted, Breen could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $2 million fine.

“Legitimate creators, performers and craftspeople who grow and support the economy through their hard work and talents must have their intellectual property protected,” stated U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr., of the Western District of New York to Women’s Wear Daily. He added “In today’s age, the theft of another’s property, to include one’s ideas, is just as likely to occur over the Internet as it is on the streets of the community. By using court-ordered warrants to seize a particular Web site or domain, our office is using 21st century techniques to combat criminals operating in the virtual world.”

Counterfeiting involves more than simply stealing someone’s idea, logos, work and products. It is truly stealing someone’s livelihood. Designers and other employees of legitimate fashion labels put their heart and soul into their work and products. Although it could be argued the consumers purchasing the counterfeit items would never be able to buy the genuine products, there are many potential dangers that consumers of counterfeit products do not realize. Since counterfeit products are not regulated, there is no guarantee that the products, themselves, are safe. Some fake perfumes have even been rumored to contain urine and other hazardous ingredients.

It is a mystery to me how society condemns cheating, lying and being deceitful, yet many people believe there is nothing wrong with buying a fake Louis Vuitton or Prada bag. However, a fake item is never truly as good as the genuine thing and deep down even if others do not know an item is fake, the buyer always will. Additionally, many counterfeit products are created internationally and it has long been rumored that the money involved with counterfeit items is used to fund illegal drug activities and possibly terrorism. With all the drawbacks of having a fake Prada, I would much rather personally rock my $10 target bag. At least that is something I can be proud of and not worry about its potential political, legal and ethical concerns.

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