Fake Polos Give Way to Phony Pradas

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Fake Polos Give Way to Phony Pradas

Winds of change are now affecting the local 'counterfeit products' market, shifting from clothes to handbags and wallets, and from above the ground to underground.

According to the results of a survey on fake or bogus goods announced by the Korea Industrial Property Office (KIPO) Tuesday, the counterfeit market is showing different aspects from the past, both quality- and quantity-wise.

Up until now, clothes sporting designer brands such as Polo, Head and Nike comprised the majority of the local counterfeit market. A clear example was the yearly confiscation of at least more than 50,000 articles of fake designer clothing until 1998. Beginning last year, however, only about 5,000 fakes have been confiscated, despite a similar number of crackdowns (80 times a year).

An official at the anticounterfeiting division of KIPO said, 'Counterfeit handbags and wallets are escalating sharply instead of clothes,' and recommended a close scrutiny to confirm the authenticity when purchasing such items. About 7,000 fake handbags and wallets were confiscated a year until 1997, which increased to 19,000 in 1998, and again to 30,000 last year, recording an all-time high since crackdowns began.

Most of the fake handbags and wallets carry the logos of Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Prada. An official attributed the main reason to 'an increasing number of people buying high-quality handbags and wallets now that the local economy has picked up, and also the profits appear to be higher compared to clothes.'

In response to the new trend, officials are strengthening their monitoring and punishment in accordance with the laws related to unfair competition practices revised early last year, forcing the manufacturing and distribution networks of bogus products to go underground. Counterfeit producers are also resorting to increasingly ingenious measures. While the number of individuals caught in KIPO raids more than doubled during the past one to two years, the volume of confiscated goods dropped to about 64,000 items from almost 2 million in 1997.

Kim Chang-yop
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