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Top 5 Categories of Fake Goods


In 2013, counterfeit goods accounted for 2.5% of international trade. In its latest report, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development recorded that the counterfeit market now makes up 3.3% of world trade (USD590 billion annually)—with expectations of that value to increase over the next decade.


While there are ten types of fake goods—including drugs, food and medical devices—that make up 63% of the total counterfeit market, here are the top 5 product categories have become victim to counterfeiting:

1. Footwear

In 2016, footwear made up almost a quarter of seized goods around the world, making it the most popular product copied by counterfeiters. And the market is huge: worth USD12 billion, 10% of the total value of the footwear industry. Not surprisingly, Nike is the most copied brand, considering that it is the world’s most accessible shoe brand—the company is currently worth USD28 billion. Adidas’ famous Yeezy line, in collaboration with American rapper Kanye West, have been among the latest iconic shoes to be counterfeited, selling at prices as low as USD120 as opposed to the average price of USD1,000 and upwards.

2. Clothing

Clothing is the second most counterfeited product category in the world, robbing the fashion industry of USD500 billion in profits a year and resulting in more than 400,000 job losses in the industry alone over the last 20 years. In the United States (US), apparel was the top seized category of goods in 2017, worth around USD75 million with 5,223 shipments taken in by Customs and Border Protection. Some of the most counterfeited clothing brands include North Face, along with Levi’s jeans: its signature vintage Classic 501 and 550 designs.

3. Leather goods

More than USD1 billion worth of leather goods, including handbags, belts and wallets. The most popular fake leather goods produced are luxury handbags, with French designer Louis Vuitton topping the list. Luxury designers like have been aggressive in taking legal recourse and initiating operations to dismantle manufacturers who produce imitations. In 2012, French luxury brand Hermes won a landmark lawsuit against 34 online websites that sold fake imitations of its goods and was awarded USD100 million in damages.

4. Electronic Devices

While fake electronic devices don’t top the list of the world’s most counterfeited product categories, counterfeit electronics make up a substantive of the market. More than USD169 billion of fake electronic parts have penetrated the global market, from semiconductors for computers and radios to microchips for defence systems, including those for the US military. A source from Bloomberg in 2018 even alleged that 30 private American companies had unknowingly operated sabotaged servers with counterfeit chips from China.

5. Watches

According to global black market intelligence provider Havocscope, approximately 40 million fake watches are sold every year, reaping counterfeiters profits of around USD1 billion. As Switzerland is the authoritative maker of luxury watches, the small European nation is affected most from the illicit trade. The most copied watch brand is naturally, Rolex, for its hyper luxury status. The brand’s Submariner model is highly copied, along with Omega’s Speedmaster and Panerai’s Submersible watches.

Identem’s serialization capabilities are diverse: we offer various option from 2D and QR barcodes to the latest RFID technology. Paired with Identem’s fully customisable and highly secure cloud-based platform, businesses and organisations across the above industries—and beyond—will be able to use built-in analytics and reports to maximise supply chain transparency and integration, in order to prevent the penetration of counterfeit goods.

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