Internet and lax customs enforcement drive growth of 600 billion US dollar counterfeit goods industry.
USA/CHINA-FAKE GOODS - Cheap Chinese counterfeits continue to plague U.S. retailers this holiday season thanks to lax customs controls and low penalties for offenders.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates the total value of fake brands doubled between 2001 and 2007 to 250 billion US dollars.
Experts like Richard Halverson from the U.S.-based National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center say the internet has only made the problem worse.RICHARD HALVERSON, NATIONAL INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS COORDINATION CENTER SAYING:
"In the last ten years, really, what we've seen is that it has made it easier for the manufacturers overseas to direct market and sell their goods to the people in the United States, whereas ten, fifteen years ago, before the internet really took off, you would have had to go down to your local flea market, your local discount store, or the local area town, where you knew counterfeit goods are sold, and walk into a store and physically buy them."
The draw is just how much consumers can save on high-end products.
A Louis Vuitton knock-off worth 1,600 US dollars can be found online for a tenth of the price.
But big profits for Chinese counterfeiters mean lower bottom lines for legitimate producers in the U.S.
The International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition states fake goods cost U.S. companies up to $250 billion US dollars every year.
Though the Chinese have ratcheted up anti-counterfeit programs, few companies are being caught and prosecuted.
EU-CHINA IPR SME HELPDESK ZHANG ZAIPING SAYING:
"The customs office has a customs control rate of about 3 percent. Thus a large part doesn't get checked. This leads to many of the goods leaving this country and being shipped overseas. Also, the customs penalty isn't very high. Therefore, it doesn't severely affect the exporter's production costs."
The most recent attempt to curb counterfeiting is the Chinese government's anti-piracy campaign launched in October.
Its focus is on software, games, literature and movies.
Jessica Gray, Reuters