Fake goods and intellectual property (IP) crime

A trade mark is an indication that distinguishes goods or services offered by one particular trader from another. Trade mark owners may also own copyright and design rights on products and packaging.

There are many fake goods. Ranging from counterfeit medicines to aircraft parts; counterfeit cigars to antiques. It seems that anything that is successful and makes money is potentially counterfeited. But the most common fakes are:

  • clothing, jewellery, handbags and cosmetics
  • films, music, games and software
  • cigarettes and alcohol
  • electrical goods
  • medications and pharmaceutical products

The true cost of fakes

IP crime is recognised by the government as a serious organised crime in its own right. Profits from counterfeiting have been linked to terrorist organisations and it is becoming the preferred method of funding for a number of terrorist groups. There are lots of good reasons not to buy fakes - and some that you may not have considered before:

  • fake products like phone chargers, hair straighteners and electronic cigarettes are missing vital parts that stop them from catching fire
  • fake products that are consumed such as medicinal drugs and alcohol, may contain dangerous chemicals that could cause nausea, dizziness, blindness and even coma
  • the sale of fakes don't include taxes which contribute to our country's economy
  • sales of fakes can affect genuine traders in ways such as fewer jobs, or increased genuine product prices
  • genuine traders are much more vigilant at refusing to sell to under-age children
  • you don't get any warranties, after sales service or guarantees with fake goods

Fakes cause fires

A partnership project was launched in South Yorkshire bringing together local government Community Safety teams, Trading Standards, Public Health and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service. The 'Fakes cause fires' project is funded by the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority.

Here are two poignant videos illustrating the dangers of fake phone chargers and fake cigarettes:

YouTube - fakes cause fires - phone charger

YouTube - fakes cause fires - cigarettes

Due to a rise in electrical fires across South Yorkshire, the Fire and Rescue Service launched a campaign to highlight the causes of these fires, and how to avoid them:

You can book a free home fire safety check with South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue using the online form.

For help quitting smoking contact the NHS Yorkshire Smokefree - Doncaster:

How to avoid buying fakes

Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if you are buying a fake or genuine product. And with more and more people buying and selling goods online over the internet, through social media sites such as Facebook, and on auction sites like e-Bay, there is an increased risk of this happening as you cannot inspect the goods before the purchase.

  • The price is always a good indication. Be suspicious about cheap bargains. The old saying 'if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!' - question why and how a product can be sold so cheaply
  • consider where buying goods from. Buy from retailers you trust and be wary of buying goods from places where it may be hard to contact the trader after the purchase, such as markets, car boot sales, pubs and computer fairs
  • when possible, examine the quality of the goods. Poor quality is usually an indicator of fakes
  • examine the packaging - for example with cigarettes, look for unfamiliar brands, foreign writing or no warning labels / pictures. Fake alcohol may have labels that aren't straight, have glue around the edges, spelling mistakes, or there may be sediments in the bottle

Reporting fakes

You can report any information regarding fake goods and counterfeiting in confidence to us:

Useful websites

Last updated: 25 February 2020 09:13:44