Don’t Let Counterfeit Products Leave You Singing the Black Friday Blues

The Thanksgiving season offers much to enjoy: football, dinner with extended family, Hallmark movies, and fantastic shopping deals. Black Friday, and more recently Cyber Monday, have become almost synonymous with the Thanksgiving holiday that precedes them. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), more than 154 million consumers shopped online or in-stores on Black Friday in 2016. In total, over $3.3 billion in sales were made. NRF also noted that trends are beginning to point toward consumers doing their holiday shopping online, as 108 million people reported doing so during the Black Friday period, up 5 million from 2015.

With the increased searching for deals and the rise of online shopping during the holidays, consumers are increasingly vulnerable to one main thing: counterfeit goods. According to the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition, as of 2015, the value of global trade in counterfeit goods was $1.77 trillion. The majority of counterfeit products are produced in less developed countries, such as those in Southeast Asia, and are smuggled into the U.S. and other developed countries. These economies have the ability to mass produce goods for sale, but lack the legal capacity to eradicate counterfeit and smuggling rings.

There are a number of warning signs to be on the lookout for when shopping for goods. First, if a deal is too good to be true, it likely is. Extreme bargains, particularly from resale websites or unofficial vendors such as flea markets, are often a sign of lower quality, counterfeit goods. Further, the packaging of a product can be a dead giveaway that something is counterfeit. Trademarks exist so that consumers can identify a product that they prefer, and companies can build rapport with these consumers. Product packaging that is wrongly colored, blurred, or appears different from what you normally see in stores is a sign that the company’s trademark has been infringed upon. The counterfeiters are trying to make the packaging as close as possible to the original trademark design in order to trick less aware consumers.

Counterfeit goods are a detriment to consumers as they believe they are buying a name-brand product, but are often misled into buying a product of significantly lesser quality. This misleading of consumers is also a detriment to the companies whose products are being counterfeited. Unaware that they have bought a counterfeit product, consumers can become dissatisfied with the product, and with the brand or company that makes the authentic version. This violates one of the key benefits of trademark protection – the ability to build confidence between consumers and a company. When goods are counterfeited, companies are not only having their intellectual property rights infringed upon, but lose out on revenue from the sale of a counterfeit product instead of a real one, and potentially lose out on more revenue in the long run due to decreased consumer confidence in their brand.

When shopping this holiday season, be aware of the products that you are buying. If something seems wrong, it is best to follow your instincts and do further research on the brand or the supplier of the product. Counterfeit products are a burden to both consumers and companies, and only benefit the criminals who produce them. 

Photo Credit: