Valerie Salembier featured in Brandweek magazine

June 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

Brandweek’s recent article, “The Fight Against Fakes,” provides a comprehensive survey of the campaign against counterfeiting.

The piece begins by detailing a large bust that took place on February 26 in the early morning and resulted in a haul of $1 million worth of counterfeit goods by the NYPD. While the location – the area known as the “Counterfeit Triangle, which includes Canal, Walker, Baxter and Centre Streets – isn’t a particularly surprising spot for this type of raid to take place, author Robert Klara believes that the size and swiftness of the procedure indicated a new level of seriousness to match the evolving blight. No longer is the fake trade a “localized nuisance.” It has become an “epidemic threat to global trade.”

Bazaar SVP & Publisher Valerie Salembier is featured prominently in the piece as she emphasizes the crucial importance of consumer education in the fight against fake goods.

“Harper’s Bazaar can’t change legislation, but we can do one thing well, and that’s educating consumers. If you don’t tell the end user that this is not a victimless crime, things will never be the same,” said Salembier.

The article attributes the recent surge in counterfeiting to, among other causes, the combination of the recession and digital commerce. During an economic downturn, Klara contends that consumers often desire “more for less.” And, as it becomes easier to purchase phony goods with the relative anonymity of the internet, the “aspirational consumer” who wouldn’t have bought fakes goods under more traditional, back-alley circumstances is now willing to make a purchase.

But all is not lost.

Luxury retailers are responding in creative ways to these new security problems. Beyond the more traditional raids and lawsuits, there has been significant growth in security solutions. Swiss watchmaker Les Cubeurs is a fine example: as recently as April, it introduced a laser-engraved ‘watermark’ onto its watch crystals that, while invisible to the naked eye, helps retailers determine the authenticity of the product and aids manufacturers in tracking counterfeits with regional precision.

Innovations like this are inspiring, but the counterfeiters won’t be easily exhausted. Because they’ll fight to find new routes around these obstacles, we need to continue educating the would-be buyers of sham goods about the consequences of their purchases.

Education is ever the key to our campaign against this abusive practice. We encourage you to learn to spot the differences between an impostor and an authentic piece of craftsmanship and make a change of your own.

Read the full story.


U.S. Customs nabs $10 million in sham goods labeled as stuffed bears and rugs

June 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

A shipment of counterfeit luxury goods that included handbags from Coach, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, and D&G was seized by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency last week at Newark seaport. The shipment originated in China and had an estimated retail value of over $10 million. In an effort to thwart the Customs official, the counterfeiters had declared the goods to be “stuffed bears, acrylic rugs, furniture and paper boxes.”

Read the full story.

Extension Cords: Only useful when they don’t burst into flames

June 29, 2009 § Leave a comment

How are counterfeiters like failed crossing guards? Neither group cares too much for safety.

There’s no question counterfeiters could care less about safety. They certainly don’t care about the safety of their workers, who in many cases are children sold into labor and forced to work tortuous hours in squalid, dodgy conditions. The counterfeiters clearly don’t care about their own safety as they try to flaunt the most talented law enforcement agencies in the world in their attempts to exploit  the world’s finest brands. But most interestingly, and this is for anyone who knows a thing or two about good business practice, they don’t care about the consumer’s safety. Literally.

We’ve seen the news items about counterfeit toothpaste containing some of the same chemicals found in anti-freeze or, in other cases, dangerous strains of bacteria. In 2006, a Canadian woman died from fake pharmaceuticals purchased online that contained lethal amounts of metals and other dangerous ‘filler’ components. And in the fall of 2008, we brought you the story about Dublin city officials shutting down a factory that was illegally producing counterfeit vodka containing levels of methanol so high that it would lead to blindness.

And if that track record isn’t filthy enough for you, now we can add another concern to the fakes list – combustible extension cords.

NEMA, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, has recently requested that Congress appropriate the funds to implement the programs that were outlined in PRO-IP, or The Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act, that was approved under the Bush administration. One of the motivating factors, according to NEMA Board Chairman Stuart Thorn was the fact that “the domestic extension cord industry has disappeared because of unfair competition from substandard, counterfeit electrical cords that falsely contain certification marks.”

These fake models lack the correct gauge of wiring as well as an internal fuse that would normally provide over-current protection, without which the fake cords can overheat and in certain cases catch fire.

NEMA maintains a fantastic anti-counterfeiting website that monitors developments in the fight against the fake trade and is a wonderful educational resource that will keep you updated on the discovery of dangerous sham products.

Though this epidemic may span a multitude of industry groups, its effects are frighteningly similar: at some level, whether in production or consumption, counterfeiting means lives are lost.

Educate yourself and help us put an end to this senseless waste.
It would seem that while fakes are never in fashion, they’re often in flames.

U.S. plans to fove forward with ACTA talks

June 29, 2009 § Leave a comment

Ambassador Ron Kirk, the United States Trade Representative, announced the plan to move forward with the negotiation of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), after it was reviewed by the Obama administration, as part of an ongoing overall evaluation of the current and pending trade agreements.

Ambassador Kirk emphasized that the ACTA is an important part of the U.S. trade agenda. Kirk believes that the international community’s continued commitment to its development marks a significant blow to those that participating in global counterfeiting and piracy. In a press release, Kirk stated that “the ACTA negotiations provide an opportunity to toughen international standards for the enforcement of intellectual property rights, making it harder for counterfeit and pirated products to enter our country and making the world safer for the innovation and creativity that are so critical to the U.S. economy.”

In the recent past, the negotiations surrounding the agreement have received some criticism for their secrecy, an issue Ambassador Kirk noted would be addressed with a dedicated page on the USTR website as well as an “open door policy” and town hall meetings to engage and inform the public about the proceedings.

According to the press release, the next meeting of the ACTA negotiations is scheduled for July in Morocco. The hope is that an agreement will be reached by 2010.

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