An association of 75 French luxury brands has launched a campaign against knockoff designer products, warning people in seven European countries of the high costs of fake goods to the industry – and potentially to buyers and sellers.
The anti-counterfeiting group, Comite Colbert, put up posters Wednesday in Paris featuring photos of fake phones, shades, watches and horse skin handbags next to printed warnings of potential high fines and even jail time. One reads: "A bet on the wrong horse can be very expensive." Another advises, "Buy a fake Cartier, get a genuine criminal record."
Though it is a global phenomenon, counterfeiting is especially rampant in France, the capital of the luxury and cosmetics industries, which employs some 131,000 people, and is home to the world's premier fashion shows. The new campaign aims to highlight serious criminal activity that the national anti-counterfeiting committee estimates costs French industry €6 billion ($7.46 billion) a year and between 30,000 and 40,000 jobs.
Though counterfeit sellers often target foreigners in Paris' tourist hot spots, the growth of fake goods on e-commerce websites is making it even more difficult to track, Comite Colbert's president, Elisabeth Ponsolle des Portes said.
French Customs seized some 8.9 million counterfeit products in 2011 – up from 2.3 million in 1998, said Ponsolle des Portes. But, that doesn't mean they aren't still readily available: In tourist spots around Paris, fake Louis Vuitton bags, Gucci watches and Christian Dior shades are ubiquitous.
Below the steps of Paris' Sacre Coeur church, four sellers of fake Dior sunglasses ran off past tourists one recent day, attempting to dodge police. One counterfeit seller, Rex, who wouldn't give his surname, said he was proud of selling imitation Louis Vuitton purses.
"Why should I care? There are no jobs anyway," he said. "I sell at this at five euros. It's a bargain: €80 ($99.50) in a shop."
The campaign is making a point of reaching out to Eastern Europe, a growing trade route for illegal trade between borders. Besides Italy and France, posters are going up in Croatia, Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
But geographical borders are becoming less relevant in the fight against crime with the expansion of e-commerce, and some houses such as Chanel are responding aggressively.
"Over the past 5 years, we've removed many thousands of websites selling counterfeit Chanel goods" and are pursuing at any given time multiple civil lawsuits, Chanel's Fashion President Bruno Pavlovsky told The Associated Press.
Across the Atlantic, the United States is also fighting counterfeit products. Earlier this month in New York, fashion house Hermes was awarded a staggering $100 million in damages against 34 websites that sold knockoffs of its luxury handbags. In the case, the Manhattan judge recognized the role that websites and search engines play in facilitating the activity, in ordering Google, Bing and Yahoo to stop providing links to the offending sites.
"The U.S. wasn't really interested in fighting counterfeiting before as it was seen as free enterprise, but that changed when they realized that money to finance terrorism came from counterfeit," said Jean Cassegrain, the CEO of luxury brand Longchamps.
Cassegrain acknowledges that that the fashion industry is doing well despite the global financial crisis, but said that was no reason for people to think counterfeiting doesn't matter.
"People see its soft side," he said. "But it's not (soft): It costs thousands of jobs, helps the drug trade and also stifles creativity."
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/7-10/14)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Nite | to the tune of @cnn 😞
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2. Got so much work to do but I just wanna stay in bed and binge watch #Gameofthrones and start the new season of #OnceUponATime. I know I can't be the only one. Right? Ha 💤🦁🍂 #saturday
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3. Mommy's weekend turn up ❤️👶🏾💕🍼 Wouldn't trade it for nothing. #TeamNoSleep lol #HesMyBiggestBlessing ✨
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4. One of them oh shit mont we made it feelings … this shit still be unreal 💯💪🏾 @remyboymonty1738
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5. Tickets Available October 14 @ticketmaster.
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6. People magazine Home edition has raided my house! Get a sneak peek into the bedroom life of the Leakes and see other parts of my home now at PEOPLE.COM
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7. They want to kick you when you down, but kick it when you up
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8. Got my advance copy of #Mafia3 at @gamestop. Get yours via link in the bio #Mafia3 #Ad
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9. This is some of the cast and our diverse team of writers in the writer's room creating funny sh*t for @nbcmarlon what a fun room! Lots of jokes, great stories and having a great time doing what we love... making people laugh and feel something. Look out for our show next year @nbcmarlon we bringing sitcoms back to NBC
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10. #HappySunday☀️Thank you @4everbrandy101 💛💡💛
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11. Happy to be back in Central Falls, RI breaking ground for the One Stop Health Center and hosting a local community event with #Vaseline.
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12. Thank you all in advance 💋💋💋 #Repost @urbansvintage・・・#TarajiPHenson's memoir #AroundTheWayGirl will be available everywhere TODAY October 11th! Will you be purchasing a copy? #UrbansVintage
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13. Moms got my back
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14. @galore dinner party glo ✨ thanks to @styledbygiigii
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15. 🌹#ThisIsWhatTheTruthFeelsLikeTOUR #forevereve
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16. Yes, all those videos I've been posting have led to this: the introduction of skincare to @TYRABeauty! This is the rundown on the new line:Years of research and beauty tips I live by led me to produce the most effective and delightful skincare out there. I'm all about taking really good care of my skin, so I can look like I'm aging in #TyraYears and go filter free on Instagram when I feel like it! Now, it's your turn. ✨My Mama always told me not to wash my face with just my hands. "Tyra, girl, you're just moving the dirt around!" And I've listened. First up is The Clean Machine.... ...a 3-in-1 foaming face wash that cleanses, removes makeup and purified your skin. It has patented technology - a attached Turbo Cleansing Tool - to give you that deep clean that makes your skin feel super fresh. Wanna know more? Yeah, baby. Click that link in my bio.
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17. On set of #beingmaryjane like... ❤️😬💃🏾
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18. #carouselofhope@yvetteshelton100@makeupbylatrice @thestacetheface@marialuciahohan24
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19. I refuse to let a little cold stop me from my daily routines to greatness. #onlythestrongsurvive #warriors
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20. Big things begin with big THINKING... #BusinessEthics #SetLife 🎥
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21. Goodnight - here's a song
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22. Words can't explain the feeling that I have right now.....God is good. look momma I made it. #Harts #Blessed #WhatNow #comedicrockstarshit #4DaysAway
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23. I tried to get a better video with out the nasty bib but she started getting mad at me..lol! Big cuz @the_queen_caitlin trying to show her what to do. #MamasToots #HeirBear👑💜
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24. Gorgeous Serena joined Beyoncé in Formation last night on stage in New Jersey!!!
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25. 😜 @lifeofdesiigner & @rockohill
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