Anyone who has visited New York City knows about Canal Street, which is infamous for its knock-off jewelry and handbags. But the market for knock-offs certainly doesn’t end at Tiffany’s and Chanel.
Indeed, a new racket of audio counterfeits is so deeply entrenched in the market that some may not be able to tell the difference between fake and legitimate items.
For example, a Chinese task force recently seized over 1,200 counterfeit audio items in Enping City.
Interestingly, the very people who brought down the counterfeiters were rival audio companies, temporarily banding together to eliminate a common enemy: criminals knocking off their goods.
This alliance also helped authorities shut down another counterfeit operation in the UK with audio gear worth more than $500,000. Those involved include Shure, Sennheiser, Audio Technica, Harman and Monster.
The type of gear recovered ranged from fake headphones to microphones and loudspeakers. The UK bust represents the largest seizure of fake audio equipment in the country’s history.
According to a study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, counterfeit goods account for as much as 10 percent of China’s GDP, and as an industry, is worth about $600 billion worldwide.
"Right now the counterfeit problem is at an all time high for a few reasons" explains David Tognotti, vice president of operations and general counsel for Monster Cable.
"You have a China economy that needs to keep people employed and create millions of jobs every year; you have lax laws and enforcement in that country, you have rising consumer demand for luxury branded goods; and you also have people with a lot less money in their wallets."
And, as is noted above, counterfeits are not relegated to the backs of trucks or Canal Street.
"More and more of these counterfeiters have exceedingly smart distribution systems," says Sylke Roth, manager of group legal services at Sennheiser's headquarters in Germany.
"In many cases, they are teaming up with other counterfeiters around the world and establishing distribution and manufacturing systems that are nearly as professional as the ones of the original brand."