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Ban on Sale of Counterfeit Goods

Is it the Real McCoy?
Surfers Respond
Extracts from a news report in Gulf News dt.28th July, 2001

Shops selling fake branded goods in the Karama area of Dubai have been told to clean up their act by August 15 or face prosecution. The area has a reputation for selling counterfeit clothes, handbags and watches at a fraction of the cost of the genuine products, and is popular with tourists and residents alike who have dubbed it "Calvin Karama" after the fake Calvin Klein jeans and shirts which are openly on sale. The other popular fake brands sold include Timberland, Boss, Polo by Ralph Lauren, Camel, Versace, DKNY, Diesel, Gucci, Lee, Oakley, Lacoste and Armani.

The reaction to this crackdown by the Economic Department has been swift and varied. Companies which own the francises for the genuine brands have always been at loggerheads with the 'duplicate market' as the Karama area is popularly referred to. To cite an example, the manager of the Ralph Lauren boutique in the BurJuman Centre found to his consternation, fake versions of the brand's Polo garments in 26 Karama shops! Such companies and intellectual property rights enforcers therefore welcome this move as a step in the right direction to protect legitimate trade.

On the other hand, Karama shop owners feel that this decision to enforce a ban on fake goods will drastically affect their livelihoods, as they will face huge losses and ultimately be forced to close down. Also they feel that shoppers come here expecting to buy fake brands and that they are bound to be disappointed. What is your opinion on this issue? Submit your views

Is it the Real McCoy?

I recently had the annoying and irritable task of returning an electric kettle just three weeks after buying it. The staff at the supermarket where we'd bought the kettle were very apologetic and co-operative, and promptly replaced it with another, no questions asked.

It then occurred to me that even though the kettle was sporting a well known brand name perhaps it wasn't the real McCoy. It also reminded me of how we, as consumers, are faced with a choice between quality of goods and affordability, both of which do not necessarily have a co-relation.

I'm sure you're all aware of how the government authorities in the UAE have been fighting to keep counterfeit brands at bay. These have inundated the market in recent years and many consumers, myself included, were often confused about whether an item bearing a famous brand name was in fact genuine or a good imitation.

Most of us can be forgiven for being tricked by the pirate, whether it is an electric kettle, a watch or even a computer programme. Pirates thrive on causing confusion. By duplicating goods to such an extent that although they may only resemble the original they succeed in perplexing the buyer and leading him to think that perhaps the manufacturer himself has launched another version of his existing brand.

Well, things have come to a head now. In an effort to rid the marketplace of unacceptable merchandise UAE traders had until Aug. 15 by which to sell off any existing fakes. The UAE officials have been quite judicious in their approach. Rather than seizing and confiscating offending goods thus causing immediate economic mayhem on the marketplace and to UAE trade, they saw fit to aid traders abide by the law by not disrupting their income and business.

The rational, I suspect, was that he would become a legitimate trader only if he stayed in business. But are these traders solely to blame? And are we the unsuspecting victims here, swindled into buying things that are not genuine? Are consumers not partially responsible for the availability of such goods in the marketplace? After all, if we did not buy them vendors wouldn't need to replenish their supply. Surely we are not so gullible. But the choice is especially hard on those of us for whom price is a bar.

Of course they'd prefer the more expensive item knowing it is of better quality and is likely to last longer. But knowing all this they still opt for the cheaper version. Why? Probably because their immediate need for the item far outweighs the apparent length of its service. But everyone, regardless of their level of income, has been deceived by these fakes. And some of us will no doubt admit that we have been knowingly deceived. We either acknowledge it but justify our purchase by asking ourselves the rhetorical question, "where am I going to hunt for the real thing, anyway?" The answer being 'nowhere here.' Or we ignore the possibility that it could be a fake and hope it's not.

Nevertheless what we're doing is wrong. We're doing a disservice both to ourselves and to the makers of the originals who lose vast sums of money as a result of those bootleggers and our purchases. I'm not saying have sympathy for the big brand manufacturers but at least respect the effort and funding they put into its production, advertising, marketing and sale.

All require skill, effort and a lot of hard work. Everyone likes to boast about teaching their youngsters about how honesty and hard work will bring long term rewards. I'm sure the CEOs of today's large corporations heard the same things when they were growing up. But if they saw then the abuse all their hard work was being subjected to they probably wouldn't even have bothered and we would be without the well known and reliable names today. Who knows what future innovation we consumers might be stifling by our, sometimes wilful, ignorance. Who knows what future inventors we might be or and might already have deterred from even trying.

Well, now that fake goods have been banned, we can all take comfort in the thought that at least our next purchase is likely to be of a legitimate item. I'm now hoping that pirates of illegally copied literature are brought to book as well. Every pun intended!
Article by Birjees Sarwat Hussain
Courtesy: Gulf Today

Surfers Respond

Milind Patil
I back this move of banning counterfeit goods in Dubai. The fake brands devalue the worth of reputed brands and designer collections. The market scenario as a whole and Dubai's reputation as a tourist destination gets maligned by these fake brands. According to my view the cheap price stores should not be encouraged.

Saif Arif
In the area near a prominent shopping mall in Deira, Dubai, hundreds of vendors deal with fake playstation games. They should be stopped immediately.

I have been staying in Dubai since last four years and have encountered lots of shops selling fake goods, whether it is in Karama, Satwa, Al Fahidi Street, Deira and so on. To stop selling fake stuffs, the solution does not lie in closing down of shops but to get them regularized. In Dubai everyone cannot afford to buy branded and genuine stuff so just to please themselves and their loved ones at home they buy fake stuff. I don't think it would affect the corporate/branded companies as those people who only go for genuine stuff would buy it from the appropriate places. I also appreciate the Economic Department taking stern steps in stopping such violations, but it should also come up with alternative solutions, otherwise these shopkeepers will be jobless .

The important thing to note here is that the trader should not sell this by saying that this is genuine. I remember last year asking a trader how you can afford to sell so cheap. He said that it is the same material which he is selling for Dhs 50. which goes for 250/- in Bur Juman. The reason he explains is due to the rent difference in Bur Juman & Karama. This is a lie and should not be encouraged.

I bought an expensive Rolex watch a few months back and I feel quite irritated and upset when I see someone wearing a fake one. I feel it undermines the genuine brand's worth and appeal. Fake goods should be banned.

I love to browse and shop in Dubai's Karama market, fake goods are a part of its charm. I don't agree that Dubai's reputation will be affected by the sale of fake items. The dramatic increase in tourists show that. Isn't it fun visiting Hong Kong and Bangkok, knowing that we can buy fake items cheaply. Likewise, Dubai has a charm of its own. In fact I want to rush and pick up a few bargains!

Dorian Hayes
I have always felt that in the case of watches at least - fakes don't affect the sale of the genuine article. Rolex, Breitling, Tag etc. should look at it as free advertising. People who can afford the real thing are not going to buy a fake but they might see a fake on someone's wrist and think 'I fancy one of those'. Consequently, the sale of counterfeit goods doesn't affect legitimate trade, people who want the genuine article are always going to buy the genuine article.

People are not being duped, when someone offers you a Breitling for Dhs 100, you know it's not the real thing. You buy it and the trader maintains his livelihood, you get a nice watch which you could never afford if it was real and Breitling remain unaffected. And, let's face it, if you step out of your Toyota Corolla wearing a Dhs 8000 watch, everyone knows it's a fake whereas, step out of a big Mercedes everyone knows the watch is real. If you can afford the big Merc, you can afford the genuine watch. Let the trade continue, it harms no-one and I will be definitely hunting down a couple of fake watches myself when I come back to Dubai in September.
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