By Ashwini Agarwal
First publised on 2021-01-15 10:32:36
Selling counterfeit products openly has been an old practice of the retail trade in India. Although reputed stores steer clear of such malpractices and informed consumers are not likely to fall for such products, smaller stores in some areas in towns and cities of India do stock and sell products that have misspelt names of popular brands (for instance, Abibas for Adidas) with similarly designed logos and sometimes even the exact replica of a major brand. The unorganized sector (read street hawkers) is the main route through which such products are sold. Some internet marketplaces have also failed to curb this practice and sellers on their platforms have sold counterfeit products to consumers.
The Office of the US Trade Representative has issued the latest (2020) Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy, where along with other counterfeit hotspots like Hong Kong and Bangkok, India's Heera Panna market in Mumbai, Khidderpore market in Kolkata, Palika Bazaar and tank Road in Delhi and the internet market place Snapdeal have been listed as markets that have engaged in or have facilitated substantial trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy.
In India, there is an underground industry that thrives on counterfeit products. Although electronics, cosmetics, watches, foreign liquor and apparel are the major items 'manufactured' by these units, nothing is left out with even toothpaste and soaps being counterfeited. There are stores which proudly inform the customer that their wedding dress is an exact copy of Sabyasachi. This is illegal and denies the real owners of the brand the revenue they deserve. It kills creativity and producers, artists and designers lose the incentive to bring innovative and better products in the markets. The government also loses on taxes as most of these products are sold below the counter. Sometimes, these products, especially liquor and cosmetics, can cause serious health issues and can even kill people. It is very difficult to stop this as it is rampant and neither the brand owners nor the enforcement agencies have the wherewithal to put a complete stop to it. Hence, consumers have to be on their guard not to be misled and resist the urge to buy a 'copy' for a lesser price.