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Spot-the-fake site launched

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The Trading Standards Institute has launched a site to help consumers spot fake branded goods.

The site, Brand-i, lets you search by brand and shows a list of official retailers for that brand. But even a quick check suggests this runs the risk of branding perfectly legitimate small firms as rogue retailers.

Search results do come with a disclaimer: "This is not necessarily a fully comprehensive list of stockists for this brand. There may be other e-commerce sites which are legitimately selling genuine products, but these sites may not be controlled, endorsed, checked or confirmed by the brand owners and so do not appear in the directory."

But depending solely on the brand owners for this information risks labelling legitimate companies as dodgy, since most brands are sold through a web of distributors and wholesalers.

A search for Acer returns no results at all, while searching for HP recommends a check for Davina Shoes and five other fashion retailers, or an irrelevant page of Orange's music service.

The site is still collecting brand information, and also offers advice on checking physical addresses, VAT registration and secure payment services. It also advises punters to search online for evidence of other disappointed customers of an unknown retailer.

We've been promised an interview with Brand-i later today. ®

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