Who'd buy a fake battery?
Booze, tobacco and gadget fakes in police probe
The Intellectual Property Office's IP Crime Group issued its annual report yesterday, and it highlights some jaw-dropping rip-offs.
A gang in Hackney used "high-tech equipment" to crank out 1.3m litres of counterfeit vodka, enough to buy them penthouse apartments. A less ambitious operation churning out hand-rolling tobacco was busted in Glasgow. The tobacco had thirty times the lead content of the genuine product.
Much of the police's IP work looks out for goods with fake trademarks and designs, covering everything from clothes and jewellery to ciggies, computer games, movies, booze and electronics accessories. Prosecutions under either the TMA or CDPA have increased threefold since 2002. Confiscation orders last year recovered £21.57m from the perps. Auction sites vie with outdoor markets as the most popular outlets for IP crime.
Sometimes the dangers aren't obvious. A footnote on Page 39 of the report points out that "‘pharmaceuticals’ also includes toilet products and condoms".
Strangely, fake batteries continue to be popular. 16 per cent of authorities who responded to the IP Crime Survey reported fake batteries. Perhaps this is the premium end of the fake market - replacement batteries for Apple or Lenovo laptops cost more than the average car battery.
Where IP isn't effectively policed, the business soon falls into the hands of the (real) mafia. Not so in the UK: most IP criminals here aren't organised. But 55 per cent of respondents found a link between IP crime and benefit fraud. The lowering cost of production technology, such as printing, makes it more of an opportunistic crime.
We'll have to wait until next year to find out if the easy availability of genuine article on UK high streets this week affects the demand for fakes. ®
I bought a fake Sony battery.
It's not a patch on the real ones, it hasn't shown any sign at all of catching fire yet....
The healthy option
"The tobacco had thirty times the lead content of the genuine product."
That's awful. Smokers should ensure they give themselves lung cancer at a slower rate by inhaling smoke only from full-priced authentic tobacco.
"Fake vodka" is a bit of a misnomer. It's high proof alcohol with some trace elements that're supposed to convey taste. Faked brand vodka would be more precise. Unless it's the stuff that blinds (and not merely from being "blind drunk", you know the kind I mean) and then it's grievous-harm-in-a-bottle.
To me, a fake battery would be one that doesn't work. Off-brand would be fake under this bunch' somewhat loose, imprecise definition, but sometimes it's the only kind you can still get. What then?
Of course, if it's clearly inferior, then I'd like to know. I too have seen pictures of capacitor shells filled with much smaller capacitors and sold as the real thing, or that brick of a usb stick with bolts for storage. And I'll agree that people producing stuff, branding it with brandnames they clearly have no rights to, then that's fake branding alright. But the kit might still be real enough. Or not, as the case may be; the reporting doesn't say.
Yes, this is nitpicking. Legal definitions are nitpicky for the same reason techies are nitpicky; even a misplaced comma can make astounding amounts of difference. Thus the shouty "intelectual property" bods with their horribly imprecise accusations (and sometimes made up "data" fit to match the conclusion of their commissioned reports) never fail to annoy me for exactly that reason.
I'm not defending rebranding anything and passing it off as something it isn't. I just would like to see the reporting less full of imprecise fakery. We are, after all, trying to discern which is what we expect it to be and which isn't, innit?