Canal Street: A Counterfeiting Urban Renewal

January 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

Two restaurateurs in New York City, Tom and Anthony Martignetti announced this month that they are opening a new restaurant on Canal Street. The interesting thing about this new, unnamed restaurant is that it is set to be located right in the middle of Canal Street’s “Counterfeit Triangle” district. A few years ago, this group of storefronts was a hub for all things counterfeit, until a major raid by law enforcement officials in 2008. The estimated value of the raid was over $1 million. According to a NY Times article, the stores were required “to replace the counterfeit vendors with legitimate businesses and pay a substantial fine to the city before the buildings can be reopened.” Last year the property owners agreed to pay the city for the right to reopen them.

(Image taken from NY Times article)

The community of downtown residents fully supports the addition of such a positive establishment. The new restaurant is certainly contributing to an urban renewal of Canal Street. From a street full of 32 criminally run bodegas, Canal Street is starting to perk up. With the “Counterfeit Triangle” gone, the destroyed brick storefronts are slowly looking more optimistic. Criminal activity has decreased making the neighborhood much safer and allowing businesses to move in that can actually contribute to the economy instead of take away jobs and taxes from New York City. We are excited to see the changes Canal Street will endure over the next few years as it tries to rebuild and become more appealing to the community.

MarkMonitor Study: Fake Websites & Counterfeit Goods Online

January 19, 2011 § 1 Comment

MarkMonitor, the global leader in enterprise brand protection, conducted a study in 2010 of 22 brands with respect to online counterfeiting and piracy. The products varied across many categories including prescription drugs, luxury goods, music, films and athletic gear. The results of the study were shocking to say the least. The MarkMonitor study revealed that digital piracy and counterfeit goods websites generate more than 53 billion visits per year. Even more staggering, sites that sold counterfeit goods, including prescription drugs and luxury goods, generate more than 92 million visits per year.

Why aren’t these sites shut down? According to the study, 67 percent of sites suspected of hosting pirated content and 73 percent of sites categorized as “counterfeit” were hosted in North America or Western Europe, BUT they operate across multiple national boundaries. This makes it harder for law enforcement to shut the websites down, but it is not impossible.

Our initial thoughts are, do music and film lovers who visit these sites know that they are illegally downloading music? Do shoppers know they are buying a counterfeit product? It is hard to know for sure, but what this study does tell us is that these websites have extremely high volumes of traffic. MarkMonitor even estimates the worldwide economic impact of online piracy and counterfeiting is $200 billion annually. This is why we work hard to educate consumers about piracy and counterfeiting. Not only do we want to protect consumers, we also want to make consumers aware that supporting these sites hinder economic growth as well as the job market.

The New Canal Street: American Flea Markets

January 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

Everyone knows that you can find fakes on Canal Street in New York City, but more recently a surge of counterfeits have been reported in flea markets across the country. It is nothing new to anti-counterfeiting organizations and law enforcement that you can find counterfeit clothes, beauty products or other accessories at these markets. With counterfeits becoming more predominant at flea market vendors, authorities have launched a nationwide crackdown on those that sell fakes.

According to a recent USA Today article, in December alone, customs agents seized $250,000 worth of items at a swap-meet in New Orleans, $350,000 worth of goods at a flea market in Las Vegas, and $150,000 worth of merchandise at another flea market in Solebury, PA.

(Photo of counterfeit goods taken from USA Today article)

There are angry shoppers who report counterfeit items once they realize they have been duped, but many flea market attendees don’t care that they are buying counterfeits. During the Philly raid at the Rice Market, one shopper told The Intelligencer, “Most people know, but who cares?” Another woman was quoted saying, “I think Homeland Security can find better things to do.”

Counterfeiting is not a victimless crime. We talk a lot about child labor and sweatshops that sew the counterfeit clothes and handbags or copy the counterfeit CDs and DVDs, but consumers can be victims as well. Fake beauty products contain chemicals that don’t abide by health and safety standards. Faux fragrance often contain bacteria, urine and antifreeze. Counterfeit clothes can even be made with toxic dyes. All of these pose a serious risk to a shopper’s health. Think about the friends and family you could be harming if you give these products to someone as a gift.

The next time you are at a flea market and you spot a counterfeit, think about what your purchase is funding. Above all, if you spot a fake, report it to local law enforcement authorities.

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