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Counterfeit goods

Counterfeit goods are fakes deliberately made to look like the genuine article. Counterfeiting is nothing new, but fake goods are becoming increasingly available and are becoming even harder to spot.


The public's attitude to counterfeit goods seems to be changing. For example, many people are now prepared to knowingly buy a counterfeit watch. However, there can be serious problems with counterfeit goods.

Criminal offence

It is a criminal offence for anyone to try to gain financially by knowingly using a trademark without the owner's permission.

Avoid buying fake goods

The main goods affected by counterfeiting are:

  • clothing and footwear, especially Ugg boots
  • music
  • toys
  • sports equipment
  • fragrances and cosmetics
  • hair straighteners
  • medicines

You're most likely to be offered counterfeit goods at a market, by a street trader or on the internet. So, you should examine the goods very carefully before you buy from such a seller. If you've previously bought the genuine article, study the label - slightly different colour and printing can be a give-away.

If buying from a website, don’t assume that because the web address is a address that the trader is based in the UK. If there is no proper geographic address, be very wary. Many genuine manufacturers have a list of approved trader websites who sell the genuine goods.

Counterfeiters are often part of 'organised crime', They've plenty of money behind them and can produce goods which, apart from the fact that they are not going to last very long, look very like the genuine article.

Some counterfeiters charge much the same price as that for the genuine item, so that in all respects everything will appear genuine. However, others may not be so devious so if you're offered goods at well below the price you would normally expect to pay for them, you should be very wary. They're almost certainly counterfeit, despite what the trader might say about them.

Apart from not lasting as long, or not performing as well as the genuine article, counterfeit goods can be dangerous. For example, counterfeit brakes for cars have been known to take ten times as long to stop a car in an emergency as the genuine brakes. There's also been a case of counterfeit washing powder causing skin burns.

What to do if you have a complaint

If you've been offered or have bought counterfeit goods, report the matter at once to Consumerline on:

  • 0300 123 6262.

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