Will Brexit Help Counterfeiters in the Far East?

The issue of counterfeit products coming to the UK from the Far East is not a new one. We’ve shared details previously about how counterfeit products are adding to unemployment here in the UK, not to mention damaging brands, reputations and causing poor and sometimes dangerous products to circulate. Now we’re looking at whether Brexit has helped or hindered these counterfeiters in the Far East.

Changes to The Recording of Rights

Following the UK’s formal exit from the EU on the 1st January of this year, companies now need to record their rights in the UK and EU separately. Previously, brands could register their rights by including the UK in an EU-wide customs Application for Action (known as an AFA). EU AFAs that have not been approved by UK customs no longer have an effect, which can serve to help counterfeiters.

Higher Prices Might Mean More Demand for Counterfeit Goods

With the increased amount of paperwork required for brands to import goods between the UK and EU and the resulting price rises that go along with this, it’s believed that there will be far greater demand for cheaper counterfeit goods. Items coming into the UK from the EU taking longer and being more difficult to source will also increase consumer interest in counterfeit products.

Demand Increases Thanks to Online Shopping

With more people shopping online now than ever before (mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing everyone to shop from home), it is now easier for counterfeiters to target UK shoppers. With a few clever social media adverts, targeted email advertising and other digital tricks, it’s simple to capture the attention of shoppers who may never know items that they buy are counterfeit. And even if they do, they may be so enticed by the low prices, compared with the high price tags associated with genuine products, that they decide to go ahead and purchase anyway.

The COVID-19 pandemic combined with Brexit has meant that it’s difficult to tell at this stage whether the amount of counterfeit products coming into the country from the Far East has increased. It is, however, clear that the demand for these products has risen dramatically.

What to do if you Discover Counterfeit Versions of Your Product(s)?

Suppose your organisation finds fraudulent counterfeit goods posing as your own. In that case, it’s important to cooperate fully with HMRC to help them put effective border measures in place and seize any counterfeit goods already in circulation here in the UK. This includes providing full details on both genuine and fake products, keeping HMRC informed on developments on new anti-counterfeiting measures that may be applied to authentic products and keeping abreast of all developments.

If you’re a brand that doesn’t already have a brand protection strategy that covers you both online and offline when it comes to counterfeiting, now is the time to put one in place.

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