Due to the lax regulations when it comes to imported, branded items and the capability of the market to buy luxury goods, Japan is now fast becoming a haven for counterfeit items like bags, garments and shoes. In 2013 alone, customs officers seized a record high of 28,135 items at airports and ports, up 5.7% from the previous year.
The Finance Ministry said that the value of the seized goods if they were original would have amounted to around 13 billion yen (approx. US$127 million). Handbags accounted for 44.5% of the fake merchandise, followed by garments at 15.6% and footwear at 10.4%. 90% of the goods were imported from China. But these numbers are just a small fraction of the counterfeit brand items that actually make their way into the country, according to Takayuki Tsutsumi, director of the Union des Fabricants’ Tokyo office, a union dedicated to fighting against knock-off products. “The brand-name products that counterfeiters target tend to change every year or two, so it can be difficult to take countermeasures,” Tsutsumi said.
Several brands have already come up with their own anti-counterfeit methods, but there is still no perfect way to detect them and prevent fakes from coming into the market. Some big brands like Louis Vuitton and Hermes, frequent victims of counterfeits, have issued certificates of authenticity to prevent scammers from re-selling supposedly high-end brand items. Designers can apply to have their work trademarked at the Japan Patent Office and to have importers suspended, but the process is long, taking several months. According to Kiyoshi Muraki, a patent attorney that specializes in counterfeit brand name issues, Japan should start accelerating procedures before things get out of hand. Muraki said there are several loopholes in the laws in Japan regarding importation by individuals, which is something that is taken advantage of quite often.
[ via Yomiuri ]
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