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Counterfeiting is a form of trademark infringement. It’s the act of making or selling lookalike goods or services bearing fake trademarks. For example, a business deliberately duplicating the ROLEX trademark on watches is guilty of counterfeiting. By copying (stealing) a luxury goods items trade mark - the counterfeiter’s primary purpose is to confuse or dupe consumers. It’s still counterfeiting even when the people buying and selling the merchandise are aware that it isn’t from the real source. That’s because even when a buyer knows that the product is a fake, the product can still be used to deceive others.
So what exactly are all the “perils” of counterfeit watches? Well we all know as a seller it is highly illegal, with certain seizure, fines and possibly imprisonment for selling counterfeit items. And it’s not just the manufacturer that is liable, an offer to sell counterfeit products can also trigger counterfeiting liability. Proof of actual production or sale of watches is not necessary to prove counterfeiting.
Selling “counterfeit” or “replica” (same thing, different word) items is surely illegal and fraught with costly pitfalls, however buying and owning counterfeit items, also has its dangers! Although my discussions are wristwatches, it is safe to say, it covers all trademark or counterfeit items, however I will leave handbags, clothes, shoes etc. to others!
Firstly let’s define what constitutes “counterfeiting”. Basically a “trademark” is a word, name, slogan, or symbol businesses use in order to distinguish their goods or services from those of others. By registering a trademark, businesses can prevent others from using their name, image, or catch-phrase to sell products. Look-a-like or “homage” watches that do not bear the symbol or “trademark” of another company, cannot be termed “counterfeits”, however as soon as you put the name or logo “Rolex or Omega or Panerai” anywhere on that watch it becomes “counterfeit” As counterfeiters get better and better at reproducing the external characteristics of watches, the movement is becoming even more valuable in determining authenticity. Gone are the days when quartz movements were put into automatic watches and the action of the second hand was all you needed to consider - today's counterfeiters make mechanical movements, complete with complications. Copy movements cause problems for external identification because the dials will be in the correct position and the functions will work correctly.
However, being fakes they are made to a budget, and that means a hugely inferior in quality AND reliability. Remember a ROLEX has a warranty of 5 years, try finding the “looky-looky” man on the beach fifty minutes after purchasing that knockoff! For my Luxury or Lie?™ class and training I own dozens of “fake” watches by all manufacturers, most last about as long as a “prawn sandwich” before failing – and you have no comeback to the clandestine Chinese manufacturer. The fact that is fakers can only give the “appearance” of quality. There has been no research and development, no stress testing, no chronometer (COSC) tests, no waterproof tests. What you have is a cheap Asian movement “pretending” to be an expensive, highly developed and tested timepiece. They cannot produce the substance or the functionality of the real thing. However they are getting very close – and it is scary, remember that the genuine piece comes with a name, that name was gained by years of good reputation, reputation comes from quality and reliability, and that comes with a price.
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