Identifying counterfeit goods
Counterfeit goods are ‘fake’ goods, normally copies holding logos or brand names which are registered as Trade Marks. Common counterfeit goods include:
- illicit tobacco
- designer labelled clothes or handbags
- CDs and DVDs
- computer software and games
Many of these items are protected by specific legislation which makes it a criminal offence for anyone other than the original rights owner to produce those items.
How to avoid buying counterfeit goods
If it looks too good to be true then it probably is. Be suspicious about bargains. Check the quality of the goods, feel the weight, look at the materials, also look out for spelling mistakes and poorly designed logos.
Is there a returns policy? To return something you need to be confident that you can locate the seller after you’ve bought the goods.
Be more wary if goods are being sold in places where it may be difficult to contact the seller after the sale. For example on the internet, at car boot sales, street markets and pubs.
The law and counterfeit goods
Trading Standards work with the brands and partner agencies to ensure that counterfeit products are not sold in their Local Authority area. Traders can face an unlimited fine and/or a prison sentence if a prosecution is successful in court.
Why you should avoid buying counterfeit goods
The goods may be poor quality and even dangerous. For example, counterfeit alcohol may contain dangerous chemicals, counterfeit car parts may be faulty and cause accidents, counterfeit toys may fall apart and be a choking hazard to children.
Help reduce organised crime
Sales of counterfeit goods often form part of large scale, organised crime such as drug dealing and terrorism.
Fund new products and recognise the right person
Buying counterfeit goods means the original designer of the goods won’t make as much profit, sometimes this can really affect their business. For example, a computer games company will end up with less money to spend on creating new games.
Keep genuine traders in business
People who sell counterfeit goods don't pay taxes on what they sell and often sell at much lower prices. This means businesses that make or sell genuine goods can't compete with the price.
Page last reviewed: 20 September 2021
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