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 £380 billion 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, serious and corporate crime defence specialists Rahman Ravelli has warned traders that they could be the biggest victims of the growing counterfeiting problem.
Senior partner Aziz Rahman explained: “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 IMRG showed that UK consumers spent an estimated £6.5 billion during the entire Black Friday/Cyber Monday week in 2016 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.”
He explains that, if retailers are accused of wrongdoing, they will have a far stronger defence if they can prove that their business has taken proactive measures to ensure that its supply chain is completely clean.
Rahman Ravelli has published a 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.