A counterfeit or an original?

I have written about this before, and now I do it again! (This is an article first written in Danish, I have now translated it.)

There is something, that stirs the deepest form of bewilderment in me, and that is the fact that some people surround themselves with counterfeit goods instead of originals. We are not talking mass produced things here, but rather decidedly counterfeits of the said goods. Brands/trademarks are my topic here, in all their shapes, sizes and forms.

Obviously I can not understand, that some people will bring them selves to actually buy counterfeits, of something that they either do not want to pay the full asking price for – or what do I know? I can not either understand the motive behind wanting to give a counterfeited piece of goods, what ever that may be, to somebody else? What kind of message does that signify?

In many of the situations it’s not just a certain quality associated with the more expensive original type of goods/brand/trademark, but also an amount of exclusivity has been accumulated by the brand owners. Both these characteristics are often, if not always, lost when one buys a counterfeit instead of an original. The value of the underlying message disappears when a counterfeit is at hand.

Personally I grew up surrounded by originals, and if I was unable to buy/afford a certain object of my desire, well then I had to admire it from a distance or even better save up for it! It is a bit of an old fashioned way of thinking, that if something I really really wanted very badly then I had to take a look in the piggy bank, to know how far my pocket money would stretch. If I did not have enough money, then there were only two ways forward: either earn some more pocket money or save up. Same difference, really, in the end.

I was recently at a seminar on the topic of counterfeits held by the Danish Confederation of Industries, the Danish Patent & Trademark Authority and the association of companies against counterfeits. One of the presenters showed horrible pictures of counterfeited medicine, manufactured in horrendous ways. Some of the ingredients used in these counterfeited products of medicine were in some cases of a life threatening nature. In some cases, there were none of the active ingredients to combat the disease or way too much of it in the chemical preparation, and the colourant that was used was poisonous – I was flabbergasted! By contrast, the original and the counterfeit were virtually impossible to distinguish from each other. All the way down to the minute details. The result: there were people dying because they bought these products. (The point being in the case of medicine: Do not buy medicine via the Internet, there is too much of a risk associated with it. Buy medicine at your pharmacy.)

Moving on. In the EU there is quite different legislation stating how long the copy right protection applies. Therefore, as a citizen of Denmark, for example, it is possible to buy counterfeits of Danish furniture classics manufactured in the UK. Sites exists on the internet, directly aimed at Danish consumers, because of the fact that they are based in the UK, but are written in Danish, show prices in Danish kroner, and have Danish furniture classics as their only goods for sale.

There is not the same degree of danger associated with the purchase of counterfeited goods such as shoes, clothes, bags or furniture. How ever it is not under Danish law permissible to resell the counterfeited goods. Ever. There is a certain kind of responsibility connected with the purchase of counterfeited goods. That is to say that so far it is legal to actually buy the goods, although that may have changed since I first wrote this blogpost, but it is the trademark owner/rights holders responsibility to decide what is to become of goods that has been detained by customs authorities, are they to be delivered to the purchaser or not. Goods detained by the customs authorities are to be destroyed. As a rule of thumb there is an other approach to counterfeit goods bought on holiday. It is permissible to introduce counterfeit goods for personal use, if they do not surmount the value 1.500 Danish Kroner. It is important to notice that the counterfeit goods must be packed in your suitcase as goods for personal use.

Submitted by Céleste Reumert Refn

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