People buy counterfeit products for a variety of reasons, but nearly always because they cost less than the real thing. Unfortunately, these “sweet deals” are too good to be true, and there is always a victim.
So, what’s the harm in getting a good deal? Counterfeit products can have a range of negative effects on individuals, businesses, and society. Here are some of the effects of counterfeit products, both direct and indirect, that you may not have thought about:
1. Health and safety risks: Counterfeit products are often produced using substandard materials and poor manufacturing practices, which can lead to health and safety risks for consumers. For example, counterfeit medications may contain harmful ingredients or be ineffective at treating the condition they are intended for. The same goes for counterfeit cosmetics, where the intended effect may not be quite what you expected.
2. Economic impact: Counterfeit products can harm legitimate businesses and the economy. When counterfeit products are sold, legitimate businesses lose sales and revenue, which can lead to layoffs and business closures. This can have a ripple effect on the local and national economy. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) estimated that the global economic value of counterfeiting and piracy could reach $4.2 trillion by 2022 and put 5.4 million legitimate jobs at risk. The counterfeit industry deprives governments of revenues that can be used for vital public services, forces higher burdens on taxpayers (yes, it can even affect your taxes!), dislocates thousands of legitimate jobs and ultimately exposes consumers to dangerous and ineffective products.
3. Loss of intellectual property rights: Counterfeit products infringe intellectual property rights of innovator companies and owners of a brand or product. This can damage both the value of the brand and ultimately discourage innovation and investment in research and development.
4. Environmental impact: Counterfeit products are nearly always produced using low-quality materials and manufacturing processes that are harmful to the environment (and ultimately you). The production and disposal of counterfeit products can and does contribute significantly to environmental pollution and waste.
5. Criminal activity: Counterfeiting is often associated with organized crime, and the sale of counterfeit products can be a potential source of funding for criminal activities such as drug trafficking, human trafficking and terrorism.
As you can see, the effects of counterfeit products are wide-ranging and can have significant negative impacts on individuals, businesses, and society. Do the right thing and keep it real by ditching the counterfeit products. It’s never worth it.
Lee Morrisroe is FMC Corporation's Global Brand Protection Director. Lee is a Registered Singapore Patent Attorney and also possesses a PhD in Cell Biology from The University of Manchester and BSc in Biochemistry with Molecular Biology from the University of Leeds.