Just three miles from the headquarters of the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, DC, is the heart of Georgetown, home to many of the capital's thinnest boutiques. Along the streets of Georgetown, you see the latest models from Kate Spade® bags and Rolex® watches, to Washington Redskins® hats and Hermès® scarves, to new Nike® Jordan LX2 (TM) NBA® Velcro® straps. In fact, you can make Rollerblade® up to the shelves of the display, as many of the hottest styles are sold right on the sidewalk at unbeatable prices. A Rolex® Oyster Perpetual (TM) Sea-Dweller 4000 (TM) will set you back thirty-five dollars. It is indescribable that Hermès® scarf is almost the same. And if you are blinded by these deals, for less than the price of entry to Café Milano, you can pick up a pair of Ray-Ban® Undercurrent 4006 (TM) sunglasses. Just don't use Windex® or Kleenex® to clean your lenses as this will ruin the cheap coating. It is also probably a good idea to refrain from smoking and avoid open flames while wearing this "hand-wrapped silk twill" scarf. And don't rely on this Rolex to be in time for this great job interview.
Counterfeits may seem to offer a cheaper start to a higher standard of living, but with each purchase of an inconvenient bag, the relative value of the real deal decreases. Patents and trademarks, the so-called intellectual property, are vital to most companies. Kate Spide, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, and designers, filmmakers, athletes and recording artists deserve to be justly compensated for their creativity, intelligence and hard work.
What distinguishes most design products are the strengths of the respective brands. The brand name of luxury goods is expensive for a reason. Certainly this has a lot to do with the quality of the goods, the workmanship and the customer service. More subjectively, prices stem from the cache of owning the hottest fashions; that means not only what these products look like to you or your family, but what you perceive them to say about you, your style, your income and even your education and values.
Although prices may seem high, the public cost of these shocks is enormous and can be measured in terms of jobs, tax revenue, health and safety and now more than ever national security. Law enforcement officials in the US and international authorities confirm that al-Qaeda and Hezbollah are actively involved in the importation of counterfeit clothing, electronics and other goods and use the proceeds to fund operations and attacks. In a statement before the House Foreign Relations Committee, Interpol Secretary General Richard Noble said that these terrorist groups were directly responsible for the killing of over 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001 and for the catastrophic attacks in Bali, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Africa and the ongoing attacks against women. "We know that al-Qaeda supporters have found the trade sizes of counterfeit goods. And if you find an al-Qaeda operator with (counterfeit products), it's like finding a cockroach in your house. It should be enough to attract The sad irony is that on New York's Channel Street, buyers of new products may inadvertently fund the terrorists themselves, who crashed the hijacked planes at the World Trade Center, which stood several blocks away.
US law enforcement spends hundreds of millions of tax dollars every year to prosecute international criminal syndicates responsible for the design, manufacturing and smuggling they look at (along with dangerous counterfeit drugs) and thousands of other products across our borders. Counterfeit goods and smuggling are tax, unlicensed and unregulated industries that are expected to cost the US economy strikingly $ 200 billion every year according to the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC). Think about it: hundreds of thousands of jobs at each level have disappeared; billions a year in local, state and federal tax revenue are shrinking. Twenty-five or $ 30 at a time, this money goes out of the local community and upstream to the overseas black-and-gray market groups whose activity undermines and corrupts foreign governments.
At a time when our law enforcement resources are steeped in the global war on terror, you might wonder why the Feds are bothering to look for counterfeiters. The fact is that they often work hand in hand. The links between terror and counterfeiting are not theory. They are not a frightening tactic that takes advantage of people's fear and patriotism. They are indisputable facts. Here are just a few of the IACC information sheets:
- "Operation Green Quest, a multi-agency working group set up by the Ministry of Finance to identify, disrupt and dismantle terrorist financial infrastructure and sources of funding – specifically recognized counterfeit goods schemes as a source of terrorist financing."
- "On February 28, 2003, Mohammad Hamud was sentenced to 155 years in prison for assisting the management of a cigarette smuggling operation that sends money to Hezbollah."
- "Federal authorities are conducting several investigations into evidence suggesting that Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist networks may sell counterfeit products to pay for their activities worldwide … Law enforcement agencies say they are investigating multi-million dollar counterfeit software operations based in Ciudad Del Este, eastern Paraguay, believed to have diverted money to Middle Eastern groups linked to terrorism, some suspected of being Lebanese-born and arrested by Paraguayans in Asti based on information from US government officials said. "
- "In 1996, Business Week reported that the FBI was investigating the link between counterfeit goods sales in New York and the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993."
- "According to a private search investigator, an attack on a souvenir shop in downtown Manhattan led to the seizure of a suitcase full of counterfeit watches and the discovery of flight manuals for Boeing 767s, some of which contained handwritten notes in Arabic. New York-based counterfeit bag shop reveals faxes related to the purchase of bridge-checking equipment Two weeks after the attack at the New Jersey bag-store, police investigate an attack on a Lebanese organized crime syndicate member in the man's apartment, authorities found fake drivers and evidence of suspected al-Qaeda terrorists – including the names of some workers at the bag store who were attacked. "
- "Los Angeles law enforcement officials are investigating possible involvement of Chinese organized crime syndicate Wah Ching in counterfeit counterfeit software. A March 1995 raid in Los Angeles raised no more than $ 10.5 million for counterfeit Microsoft software, holograms, guns , guns, etc. TNT and plastic explosives. Officials say three organized crime groups were involved. The case began with forging checks, escalated to hijacking and finally found links to counterfeiting. This is just one of many examples of Bindings between counterfeiting, organized crime and violent crimes that these groups carry out. "
It is clear that it is certainly not possible to conclude that criminal syndicates that successfully slide hundreds of tonnes of illegal goods across our ports and borders each year will have little trouble adding a few dozen Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to order.
In addition to public expenditure, counterfeits are generally of lower quality leading to personal injury. He took off his sunglasses. Along with cheap material, false labels claim 100% UV protection. As a result, tinted plastic lenses trick your retina into opening, allowing dangerous ultraviolet radiation to enter your unprotected eyes. In fact, you are much better off wearing sunglasses than those with questionable UV protection. You may think of a fake watch loading the Finding Nemo DVD, or you want Gucci to win someone. It's not that simple. Behind the street vendor who sold you this movie or fashion accessory is often a chain of criminal activity that spreads around the world and funds unregulated labs that pull out potentially deadly prescription drugs and even baby formula. That doesn't stop there.
The IACC reports that $ 12 billion of counterfeit auto parts are sold in the US each year at a cost of 210,000 workers. And unlike this fake $ 25 shawl, you may not find out if the brake pads are real until the insurance company runs the charred remains of your minivan. The fake parts of the plane are even involved in many fatal crashes, some of which involve our soldiers and pilots.
So how do you know the real fakes? It's easier than you think. With hundreds of supports for each true article, the full list will be the size of a phone book. Here is the primer.
- High-end designers are usually sold from their own company stores or through authorized department stores and boutiques. They are rarely sold in discount stores and "exhaust stores" where there are many counterfeits. Understanding for sure is often as easy as visiting a designer's website or calling his or her 800 number. Avoid any "boutique" whose main architectural feature is chicken wire, thunderstorms, rough idling or windshield parking tickets.
- The number of online retailers of "replica" and "designer inspired" merchandise is staggering. In fact, more than ten percent of counterfeit goods worldwide are already sold online. High-end designer clothing is rarely sold through online auctions and discounters. While eBay and other online auction houses strictly prohibit the sale – especially the retail sale – of counterfeiting of counterfeit goods, it is often difficult. When an online counterfeit dealer is discovered, they often reappear within days under a new web address. A quick visit to the designer's website will inform you exactly who is authorized to sell their products.
- In order to protect consumers, official sports goods are not sold by people who roam the stadium parking lots or adjoining streets; as well as other branded goods, official team uniforms and leagues are sold by authorized dealers and manufactured by official licensees.
- If your price seems too good to be true, so be it. You may find a good deal for this Rolex Daytona, but you won't get one for thirty-five dollars.
- True DVD movies do not have the silhouettes of people carrying giant popcorn bags walking around the set. They are not on sale until the movie hits theaters. And if the movie is still playing on the street theater, the DVD of that movie is likely to be fake. With thousands of counterfeit products, it is impossible to enumerate the many distinctive characteristics of each. Once again, official websites often have pages about how to spot counterfeits.
Manufacturers are struggling by hiring private investigators and intellectual property lawyers to bring legal proceedings against counterfeiters and even street vendors who sell the goods. In only one case does a private investigator working for a lawyer representing large consumer product manufacturers pose as a client in search of fake Cartier watches. The most Globe and mail in Toronto reports that the undercover investigation provided valuable information on "well-connected" counterfeiters and manufacturers & # 39; The lawyer is currently negotiating to settle a case seeking more than $ 1,000,000 in damages. The intellectual property lawyer continues to win judgments against individuals and businesses that violate their client's design, but such a measure remains a difficult battle without vigorous enforcement of the law.
Many companies have come together to help law enforcement and protect consumers from unsuccessful actions. In particular, major professional sports leagues and collegiate athletic bodies have formed a coalition to protect the advance is the sports logos, or CAPS, www.capsinfo.com. This informative site has links to the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, NCAA and other leagues & # 39; sites where you will find detailed information about counterfeiting. These leagues have taken the extra step of standardizing their anti-counterfeiting measures to include unique holograms of the respective brands that are affixed to licensed products. Major software vendors and trade organizations have also formed coalitions to combat the huge problem of piracy; these include the Business Software Association, the Software and Information Industry Association, the Motion Picture Association, and the Recording Industry Association, to name a few. Each of these organizations offers comprehensive online information to protect consumers from counterfeiting.
Perhaps out of ignorance, many people, even those who can afford to buy the original article, choose to buy counterfeits. A person who buys a wallet similar in appearance cannot change, the thinking goes on. Think again. Although laundering, money laundering, underground drug labs, and terrorist training camps are oceans away from street vendors in Georgetown, Lower Manhattan, Boston, or Los Angeles, there is complicity.