The UK’s Real Deal campaign aims to rid its markets of counterfeiters

March 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

It’s a difficult truth to swallow, but anyone interested in buying a fake really won’t have a lot of trouble making a purchase.

There was a time when shopping trips for knockoffs involved shady deals in dingy rooms, when fakes were bought in a cloud of exhaust and cigarette smoke in the back of a van that had windows tinted with duct tape.

It won’t take Old Golds and diesel-scented air fresheners to recreate that type of experience. It’s still an option. But because a simple Internet connection provides access to a vast marketplace of authentic and counterfeit goods, alike, most transactions involving fakes are done in the digital space.

What was once accomplished by hurried black market exchanges is now done in slippers and Snuggies.

If it weren’t easy enough, in some areas of the country sham goods are actually being sold in major retail stores. Back in 2006, Fendi brought a lawsuit against Wal-mart for selling fake versions of its purses. Burberry recently sued The TJX Companies (operator of TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Homegoods stores) for a similar offense.

Whether or not these retailers were aware of the phonies on their shelves remains to be seen and there’s a chance it may have been an innocent mistake. But the only sure way to prevent these knock-offs from appearing in stores or on websites is to kill the demand for them. It begins and ends with the consumer.

As much as we’d like it to, the demand isn’t likely to go away in the near future, but a bright spot has recently appeared on the anticounterfeiting horizon and we believe it will make a significant contribution to the fight against fakes.

Known as the Real Deal campaign, this initiative calls for an end to the sale of counterfeits in Britain’s markets – in the States we know them as flea markets, green markets or open-air markets. It represents the combined effort of national and local agencies working alongside market organizers and vendors to push out the counterfeiters.

It’s a grassroots call to arms that continues to gain momentum. With over 40 organizations already committed to the charter, the Real Deal campaign has been steadily gaining momentum since it began in July 2009. In time, counterfeiters around the world will feel its effect.

You might be skeptical about this last claim. It’s natural to wonder how improved enforcement in micro-markets can possibly put a dent in a global epidemic that’s responsible for over a trillion dollars in sales each year. At the end of the day, it’s the consumers who are the first and last line of defense against counterfeiting.

And while the efforts of law enforcement agencies are crucial and greatly appreciated, it’s a job they’d rather not have, in fact, we all wish there wasn’t a problem that required their attention.

That’s why the customers are so important to the fight. Newly enlightened shoppers who might have bought a fake are less likely to because they learned about the human rights abuse tied to counterfeiting. And they are not just turning away from fakes themselves, they’re spreading the word.

Communication and education are the pillars of our fight. One cannot successfully stand without the other.

The Real Deal is exactly what this fight needs. It improves dialogue between agencies and individuals, as well as the organizers and consumers.

So while the current availability of sham goods is frustrating, efforts like this campaign give us further hope.

Take note counterfeiters: with all these parties are working together, you ought to start looking for those rocks you crawled out from under. Seems like it’s going to get stormy for you.


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