They may not be as well crafted as the real thing or look as good.But according to a new report published yesterday fake designer goods are not all that bad.In fact, top designer labels such as Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci can actually benefit from it, it says.The EU-funded study, co-written by a Home Office advisor, even suggests that the estimated losses to the designer industry are greatly exaggerated.Most of those who buy fakes would never pay for the real thing anyway, they concluded.And the knock-off goods at knock-down prices have improved in quality ‘greatly’ and can actually promote the brands they try to imitate, it found.
The trade in counterfeit goods is now a multi-billion pound industry and is estimated to be worth £1.3 billion in the UK alone.But whilst critics question the origins and legality of their goods the report calls on the police to stop wasting their time with the bootleggers.Professor David Wall, who co-authored the report and advises the government on crime, said the real cost to the luxury goods industry could be one-fifth of previously calculated figures.’It’s probably even less,’ he said yesterday. ‘There is also evidence that it actually helps the brands, by quickening the fashion cycle and raising brand awareness.’He added: ‘We should be focusing on the trade in counterfeit drugs, dodgy aircraft parts and other stuff that really causes public harm.’At a time when there is no more public resources for police, and they are being asked to do more, law enforcement should be focusing on other things.’
In the UK, it is illegal to sell fake goods but not against the law to buy them. However, tourists caught buying fake goods abroad can be prosecuted.In France, for example, the maximum fine for buying fake goods is 300,000 euros (£246,000) or three years in jail.Holidaymakers are also face having counterfeit purchases seized at ports and airports as they return to Britain, if they are detected by the UK Border Agency.The report, for the British Journal of Criminology, estimates that up to three million consumers every year buy counterfeit goods.Nearly a third of the sales are now over the internet.