Sunday, April 3, 2011

10 Most Counterfeited Products…

Our penchant for wanting the most coveted products, the latest fad, the hottest new item, at the lowest price throws the door wide open to unscrupulous operators who supply that demand with counterfeit versions of the real thing.

I recently came across a list of the 10 most counterfeited products sold in the USA, the following figures being for 2009. Statistics for 2010 hadn't been released yet.

Although it's impossible to get an exact number for the total amount of money lost to counterfeit goods each year, sources estimate that businesses lost hundreds of millions, possibly even billions of dollars in sales in the United States alone.

Here's a list of the 10 product categories that lost the most money to counterfeit goods. These figures relate to U.S. goods only, not world-wide statistics.

1) Footwear: Value estimated at $99.8 million
Nearly $100 million worth of counterfeit footwear was seized entering the U.S. in 2009, the greatest amount of any product for the fourth year in a row. 98% of counterfeit footwear originated in China.

2) Consumer Electronics: Value $31.8 million
Products such as cell phones, digital music players, and digital cameras made up that value with most of those seizures originating in China and Hong Kong.

3) Handbags, Wallets, Backpacks: Value $21.5 million
Just walking down a major street in New York City provides the consumer with numerous opportunities to purchase a fake designer handbag. China exported $19.5 million of the $21.5 million seized.

4) Apparel: Value $21.5 million
The dollar amount of counterfeit designer clothing seized was almost identical to the handbags, wallets, and backpacks seized. The amount of the apparel exported from China was also almost identical to handbags, wallets, and backpacks at $17.9 million.

5) Watches/Parts: Value $15.5 million
Even though counterfeit watches are readily available in the U.S., $15.5 million worth of watches and parts were seized in 2009 with the majority of that coming from Hong Kong.

6) Computers/Hardware: Value $12.5 million
Over $12.5 million in computers and computer components was seized coming into the U.S. in 2009—almost double the amount from 2008. It's estimated that up to 10% of all high-tech products sold worldwide are counterfeit.

7) Media: Value $11.1 million
$6 million worth of media, including compact disks and DVDs, was seized entering the country in 2008. That number jumped to just over $11 million in 2009 with approximately half those goods coming from China. Bootleg media is widely available in street markets and on the internet.

8) Pharmaceuticals: Value $11.1 million
Most of these coming into the U.S. originated in China. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals also made up the majority of the counterfeit goods seized coming from India. Although counterfeit drugs present a problem in the U.S., they range from only 1% in developed countries to over 30% of pharmaceuticals in developing countries. Pharmaceuticals are the top commodity presenting "potential safety or security risks."

9) Jewelry: Value $10.5 million
Counterfeit jewelry has a huge market in the U.S., especially with the proliferation of online shopping. One popular means of counterfeit jewelry distribution is through online auction sites. Tiffany & Co. lost a lawsuit recently against eBay regarding the sale of counterfeit Tiffany jewelry on eBay.

10) Toys/Electronic Games: Value $5.5 million
Of the $5.5 million worth of toys and electronic games seized entering the U.S. in 2009, just under $4.9 million came from China. These toys and games have the potential of being extremely dangerous. Some are made with poisonous materials such as lead paint. Electronic toys have been known to overheat and explode.

Other counterfeit products that figure prominently in the world trade market are:

Cigarettes: China's counterfeit cigarette industry is growing at an extraordinary rate. The country now produces 400 billion counterfeit cigarettes each year packaged as several popular brands.

NFL Merchandise: This is one of the most highly counterfeited of all sports goods, especially around Super Bowl time.

Antiques: These are definitely not the easiest counterfeits to detect. Be cautious of overly inexpensive items, furniture pieces that have numerous copies at antique fairs, and supposedly very old pieces that don't have any imperfections.


Riley Quinn said...

Interesting post. I live in Germany, about an hour from the Czech Republic border. There's a flea market-style market there that has "Coach" bags, as well as other things. Counterfeiting is all over.

Samantha Gentry said...

Riley: That's so true. Counterfeiting of products is definitely a global "business" with bogus merchandise flowing across just about all borders. And some of them are so good that the average consummer is hard pressed to be able to detect the difference.