Why are there so many online "replica" stores?
Published Saturday, February 13, 2010 by Harry SK Tan |
Counterfeit or "copy watches" were made and sold for some decades now and despite all the enforcement efforts by the brands, there seem to be no effective way of stopping the growing sales of these items. The continued growth is probably due to cheaper and ever increasing quality of the fakes. This apparently has hurt the Swiss watch industry enough for them to launch a campaign - almost a year ago - See this Post
. Clearly this campaign was targeted at the buyers to work in conjunction with their legal efforts to bring down the factories of pirates.
Yet, for all the efforts of the Swiss watch industry, what is still a big surprise is how little headway or at least evidence of their efforts to bring to court those who peddle the counterfeit watches on the Internet. All one has to do is to google "Replica Watches" and the sites number in many thousands. I chanced on a site that inspired this post - had an oxymoron sub-header "Genuine Copy". Although my initial reaction was uncontrolled laughter, I realised quickly, it was no laughing matter.
If there were any part of the chain of the counterfeit trade that damages brands the most, its the counterfeit retailer. The counterfeit trader uses the trade name and designs of the original to ply their business. These online businesses are no longer the proverbial back street peddlers. They run slick online e-commerce solutions with complete selection of models and pricing. Ironically, most of them are based in the US.
Such online activity dilutes the trademark or the goodwill associated with it. But to me what is most damaging is that they are able to continue to do so with no apparent concern about the rights of the trademark owners.
As a consumer and a watch collector, I find this open and public pirating of counterfeit goods quite disturbing. Are the brands interested in protecting their brand name online? Are there real efforts in enforcing the legal rights against such retailers?