Counterfeit goods are fake goods passed off as originals. They include fake designer clothes, bags, accessories and perfumes as well as pirate DVDs, CDs and computer games.
Many counterfeit goods are sold at car boot sales, pubs, markets or fairs making it difficult to trace the fraudster once you have bought from them.
You may also come across fake goods online, although auction sites such as eBay are doing their best to clamp down on counterfeiting and tackle piracy. If the price of an article seems too good to be true - for example: a Rolex watch at £10 - then it almost certainly is.
How does counterfeiting affect you?
There are numerous reasons to avoid buying counterfeit goods.
For a start, you are helping the trader break the law and many fraudsters use the proceeds from selling counterfeit goods to fund drug dealing or other types of organised crime. You will also deprive the genuine manufacturers of any profit.
In addition, buying fake goods also contributes to job losses because genuine manufacturers are unable to match prices charged by rogue traders. Certain counterfeit goods may be substandard, possibly dangerous and may even contain hazardous substances.
What should I do?
If you buy goods that are not as described, counterfeit or not original, you may be able to use your statutory rights against the seller. By their nature, however, counterfeit goods sellers are not the easiest people to track down. It is much better to avoid them in the first place.
All goods bought or hired from a trader - including shops, street markets, catalogues or doorstep sellers - are covered by statutory rights. They also apply to goods bought in sales. You might be entitled to a refund or exchange of goods.
Your statutory rights apply if the goods you buy are not:
- Of satisfactory quality. This covers, for example, the appearance and finish of goods, their safety and durability. Goods must be free from defects, usually even minor ones, except when the seller has brought any defects to your attention
- Fit for their purpose, including any particular purpose you tell the seller about. For example: if you tell the seller that you want boots fit for mountain climbing, that is what you should get
- As described on the package or display sign, or by the seller. If you are told that a jumper is 100% cotton, it should not turn out to have acrylic in it.
If you think you have unknowingly been sold counterfeit goods, or if you suspect somebody is selling fake goods, please contact your local Trading Standards office.