British retailers have been told to be wary of the 'Dark side of Black Friday', as the authorities continue to ramp up their attempts to bring counterfeiters to justice.
The global counterfeit goods industry is said to be worth nearly half a trillion dollars a year, according to the OECD, and the supply of fake products inevitably increases around major seasonal sales periods.
With ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ just around the corner, Aziz Rahman, Senior Partner at serious and corporate crime defence specialists Rahman Ravelli, has warned traders that they could be the biggest victims of the growing counterfeiting problem.
He commented: “There are more counterfeiting seizures being carried out, which means more people are likely to face prosecution. A sales day such as Black Friday intensifies the desire for a bargain and, therefore, creates a demand that can be filled by people supplying counterfeit goods.”
Figures from Experian and IMRG showed that UK consumers spent £3.3 billion during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend in 2015, and retailers of all sizes will inevitably look to cash in again this year.
However, Mr Rahman said that in the clamour to boost profits, retailers could be putting their livelihoods at risk by getting mixed up in counterfeit goods. In many cases, they might not even know about it.
“It can be the case that people accused of selling counterfeit goods genuinely do not know that what they are selling is fake,” he added.
“If a case involving a breach of the Trade Marks Act 1994 goes to Crown Court, a person found guilty can face unlimited fines and up to 10 years in prison. What also must be remembered is that under the Proceeds of Crime Act, the authorities have the power to confiscate the assets of anyone who has obtained them through illegal activity.
“Prosecutions can be brought under the Act against anyone in the chain of counterfeit goods: from manufacture, packaging and distribution through to them being offered for sale.”
If you are accused of wrongdoing, you’ll have a far stronger defence if you can prove that your business has taken proactive measures to ensure that its supply chain is completely clean.
Rahman Ravelli has published an all-encompassing guide aimed specifically at traders, which explains why the counterfeiting problem becomes more pronounced during peak sales periods. It also contains a six-step guide to auditing your supply chain.
You can see the guide here.