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Counterfeit goods

Counterfeit goods

We would like to hear from you if you have information about the production of, or the selling of counterfeit products.

What are counterfeit goods?

Counterfeiting is big business across the world but the recent economic downturn has highlighted its prevalence in the UK.

The word 'counterfeit' is the legal definition of fake, snidey, bogus, forgery, copy, phoney, sham, hookey, dodgy, iffy, knock-off, imitation.

Whatever the word, the meaning is the same: COUNTERFEIT.

The average person may believe they are getting a 'good deal' or a 'bargain' by purchasing counterfeit goods, however they are generally of poor quality and don't come with any guarantees or after-sales service. They don't have the same quality control procedures as the genuine article and could well be unsafe and in some cases, potentially deadly.

Counterfeiting may also be linked to organized crime or criminal activity, which may pose serious threats to the health and safety of consumers. Counterfeiting also damages brand owners and retailers selling legitimate products by causing missed sales opportunities and actual job losses

Damages do not stop with brand owners and consumers because counterfeiting also deprives national economies of customs duties and tax revenues.

What do Trading Standards do about it?

  • We visit shops and markets in the borough to check that counterfeit goods are not being sold
  • We monitor all major auction and listing type websites such as Ebay, Gumtree, Amazon marketplace etc and carry out projects to monitor the marketplace to stop the spread of this type of crime.
  • We have the power to investigate instances where counterfeit goods are being supplied.
  • People who produce, sell or possess counterfeit goods may be committing criminal offences. There are serious consequences for businesses found guilty in the courts of up to 10 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

What types of items are counterfeited?

Anything that can be made can be counterfeited including: 

  • Alcohol and tobacco                                                                                 
  • Jewellery, handbags and purses
  • Perfume and aftershaves
  • CDs, DVDs and games
  • Baby formula                                                                             
  • Medications
  • Clothing
  • Phone chargers and phones
  • Tools
  • Electronic equipment and parts
  • Airplane and automobile parts
  • Toys

Why should you avoid counterfeit goods?

  • You're helping the trader to break the law and many fraudsters use the proceeds from selling counterfeit goods to fund drug dealing or other types of organised crime.
  • Buying fake goods contributes to job losses because genuine manufacturers are unable to match prices charged by rogue traders. You're also depriving the genuine manufacturers of any profit.
  • Some counterfeit goods may be substandard, possibly dangerous and may even contain hazardous substances.

What can you do to protect yourself?

The most important thing you can do is to say 'NO' to counterfeit goods. Follow this simple checklist:

  • Be wary of bargains. Remember - if something seems too good to be true, it probably is! eg a Rolex watch being sold for £10!
  • Check the quality of the goods. Fakes will not be as good as the real thing
  • Check labels and packaging for spelling mistakes and poorly printed logos
  • Be careful at markets, car boot sales, pubs and computer fairs, or other places where you may have difficulty contacting the trader after purchase

If you think somebody is selling fake goods, please contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service helpline on 0808 223 1133.            

The Intellectual Property Office has recently produced new guidance on Intellectual Property Crime and Enforcement for Consumers

Business advice

If your business is based in the borough and you need advice about this subject or other consumer and fair trading matters, you can contact us directly at

The Intellectual Property Office has recently produced new guidance on Intellectual Property Crime and Enforcement for Businesses

The law

Registered trademarks are protected under the Trade Marks Act 1994.

It is illegal to apply a registered trade mark to goods without the permission of the trade mark owner.

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 deals with copyright issues that may occur with computer programs, CDs, DVDs and other electronic media. The copyright may be infringed if these goods are copied without the permission of the copyright owner.

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