Counterfeit Brands

Counterfeiting.  This concept of real versus fake is a very complex issue. It’s complexity stems from the evolution and creation of brands in society. The power of brands within our culture as well as its outreaching power into overseas culture is truly amazing. I believe that because of the rise of brands this term counterfeiting has taken on new meaning. In the past when I would hear the word counterfeiting, the production of fake money would come to mind. Now, although the meaning is still the same counterfeiting has come to represent not only fake money, but fake fashion as well.

Fake fashion. What a bizarre grouping of words. Fashion is fashion; its real, how can it be fake? With those two words alone it’s hard to grasp the concept that fashion can be fake, I believe fashion in and of it self can never be fake, but fashion brands can. Whenever the notion of brands comes into play, the relationship between fake goods and real goods become more tangible. It’s real because it was produced under the brand with all the qualities and components of the brand. It’s fake when the producer is not the brand, and the product appears to have all the elements of the real product, however, its essence lacks the quality and components of the real product. Counterfeiting is not a new term, or a new crime, but it appears to be a hard one to prosecute when it comes to brands.

Right now counterfeit brands are everywhere, and the big question is who do you punish and how. According to Mr. Harley in the short story “Bag Man”, counterfeiting is more profitable then selling narcotics, but if you get caught selling drugs you can go to jail for life, but if you get caught selling a fake bag, you may or may not get 3 months at the most. It is strange that the repercussions of one crime can vary so drastically, especially when the crime with a higher penalty is less lucrative, but I believe this is mainly due to the newness of brand power. Many countries around the world hardly enforce anti-counterfeiting laws; however, countries that have a strong brand market like the United States and countries in Western Europe like France take stronger actions to prevent and stop the counterfeiting of brands.  In China where a large majority of counterfeit goods are produced and sold, counterfeit merchandise accounts for a sizable portion of consumer goods in the country, so the Chinese government has no substantial benefit from taken actions to stop counterfeiting. In reality most brands that are victimized by counterfeiting only seek monetary damages, but many of these brands are multimillion dollar entities, that are and will continue to make million upon millions of dollars without recovering damages. So the question becomes whether or not its right to put counterfeiters (who are usually immigrants and poor laborers) out of work to give more money to people that already has a surplus of funds?

 

-Chelsi Russell

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