Press releases

Do You Know the Shock Cost of Fakes?

Counterfeit goods are not only a false economy but can also be a killer, warns the Trading Standards Institute (TSI).

The current economic climate may make cheap deals even more tempting but consumers should be aware of the wider implications and the risks to their own safety. Counterfeiting and piracy of trademarked and copyrighted products and services also cause considerable damage to legitimate businesses.

TSI’s intellectual property lead officer Bryan Lewin said the World-Anticounterfeiting Day on 11 June was a great opportunity to highlight the serious threat posed by crime in this area.

He said: 'What we really need to see is better consumer education.  People need to be more aware of the consequences of piracy and counterfeit goods, especially as there has been a worrying increase in sectors that are potentially dangerous to consumers such as electrical equipment, toys, personal care products and medicines.

'People involved with counterfeit products are rarely one trick ponies.   There are usually countless links with further organised crime.

'There is a lot of publicity around counterfeit watches, designer clothes, CDs and DVDs, but consumers and businesses should also be aware of fake electrical installation goods which pose a real risk to the health and safety to people, and damage to property.  These fake products will always be sub-standard and have caused fatalities.'

TSI signed the Electrical Installation Charter, instigated by the Electrical Safety Council, earlier this year with key stakeholders and industry representatives, with the aim to join forces in stamping out fake products such as fuses, circuit-breakers, switches and cable.  The packaging and external appearance is often well copied but the internal design is likely to be significantly different and dangerous.

Trading Standards Services across the country are working to help the public recognise the real dangers of buying fakes with initiatives such as the DVD Don't Deal With Snidey Sidney launched today  (11 June) by South Tyneside Council.

Editors Notes:

World Anti-Counterfeiting Day on 11 June seeks to highlight the serious threat posed by intellectual property crime.

The market for counterfeit products is suspected to be as high as 15 per cent of world trade, while an estimated £30 million worth of counterfeit electrical products reach the UK every year.

Brent and Harrow Trading Standards investigated an Internet website earlier this year after complaints from consumers – various counterfeit goods such as hair straighteners and mobile phone chargers were seized.  An examination by an electrical safety engineer identified that 'they posed a potentially lethal risk of electric shock to users.'

Buckinghamshire Trading Standards launched What’s in Your Socket campaign in September 2008 to raise awareness and to call for better regulation of the supply of electrical equipment into the UK after investigating a case where a replacement charger for a games console exploded in a child’s hand.   Only 12 out of 40 branded chargers, bought from a variety of outlets, were found to comply with UK electrical safety regulations.

Seven-year-old Connor O’Keeffe died while on family holiday to Thailand in 2006 after he was electrocuted while playing with his Gameboy, using a counterfeit, unsafe charger.

Customs seizures of counterfeit goods at the EU's external border (Brussels, 19 May 2008) -  '… there has been a worrying increase in sectors that are potentially dangerous to consumers (medicines, electrical equipment, personal care products).'

Compared to 2006:

medicines: +51%.
toys: +98%
cosmetics and personal care: +264%

Electrical Installation Charter

The Charter instigated/signed at the Electrical Safety Council's (ESC)pioneering product safety conference at the end of 2008.

It is an agreement that confirms the commitment of all signatories in the fight against the trade in counterfeit electrical products, and the proliferation of products failing to comply with the appropriate standards.  Current signatories are: Beama, Basec, EDA, LIF, BCA, Intertek, Alliance Against IP Theft, TSI, Select, ESC, ECA.
The ESC will be issuing a report later this month (June) on the roundtable on counterfeit products attended by the Charter signatories in April.    The meeting looked at existing anti-counterfeit measures and what more can be done to implement them, as well as considering specific areas of concern, such as the sale of counterfeit products over the internet.

Trading Standards Institute

Trading Standards Institute has represented the interests of Trading Standards professionals for 120 years. We have a long and proud history of ensuring that the views of our members are well represented at the highest level of government, both nationally and internationally.

Our aim is to promote excellence and enhance the professionalism of our members in support of empowering and informing consumers, encouraging and working with honest businesses, targeting rogue traders and rogue trading practices and contributing to the health, welfare and wellbeing of citizens and communities.

TSI members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities in response to 2 million consumer and business complaints and enquiries each year. They also support the delivery of new initiatives such as Consumer Direct, providing first point of contact practical consumer advice.

They also work in the business, consumer and central government sectors in promoting and influencing the safety, prosperity and enhancement of individuals and markets with a dependency on effective and professional trading standards contributions and interventions.

Electrical Safety Council

It is an independent charity committed to reducing deaths and injuries through electrical accidents at home and at work.  It is supported by all sectors of the electrical industry as well as local and central government and work to promote safety and good practice.