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Last Updated: Monday, 23 July 2007, 08:24 GMT 09:24 UK
UK consumers happy to own fakes
Counterfeit Louis Vuitton bags
The image of luxury brands can be damaged by fakes
The amount of fake luxury goods has grown as shoppers in the UK find it increasingly acceptable to own them, a report has suggested.

Two-thirds of consumers, up 20% on 2006, are happy to own fake clothing, footwear, watches and other items.

Favourite brands for fakers remain Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Burberry.

But the Counterfeiting Luxury study, from law firm Davenport Lyons, found 80% of UK shoppers would be deterred if their purchases aided terrorism.

However, some trade bodies working to counter intellectual property crime have told the BBC that they see no connection with terrorism.

And UK law enforcement bodies have also made it clear that the only proven link with terrorism is the sale of fake cigarettes and other counterfeit goods by paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland.

'Crime and criminality'

The survey of 2,000 people warned the "social acceptability of fake goods is a deeply concerning shift in consumer behaviour".

This money is undoubtedly finishing up with people who are involved in other forms of criminality
Brian Lewin
Trading Standards

It called for UK action to tackle the fakes "head on" and said the most useful way to do this would be to highlight the fact that proceeds are going towards the funding of organised crime.

"Consumers need to understand that by buying fakes they are not just getting a relative bargain, they are fanning the flames of a much deeper social problem, crime and criminality," said the report's author, Simon Tracey.

He said shoppers had to be made aware of "whose pockets they are lining when they buy a fake".

And Brian Lewin, lead officer for counterfeiting at Trading Standards, told the BBC that there was a "massive" and "growing" counterfeit culture in the UK.

"The Serious and Organised Crime Agency recognise the threat to the UK economy by counterfeiting and piracy," he said.

"This money is undoubtedly finishing up with people who are involved in other forms of criminality such as people trafficking, drugs, pornography and money laundering."

Overseas buys

Just over 70% of shoppers said they would be deterred from buying fakes if they thought they might go to jail.

However, roughly the same percentage of those questioned thought that buying a fake should not be made illegal.

Nearly one third of shoppers bought a fake believing it to be the real thing.

Another trend spotted this year was the increase in the number of counterfeit goods bought overseas, with Europe, China, India and South East Asia all sources of fake items.

The report said firms were under threat from non-genuine sales in the UK through lost revenue, negative consumer perception and brand dilution.

More than half those surveyed said luxury brands lose their exclusivity if fakes are widely available.


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