Ireland struggles with counterfeits
3 Jan 2006
Fake fashion goods flooded into Ireland last year, with seizures of everything from counterfeit Prada bags to phoney Gucci watches. Figures obtained by the Irish Independent show that up to the end of September there were 241 individual seizures in the state. The total number of separate items seized was 600,000, with a total value of â‚¬1.7m, but with a full quarter of a year left the figure for the whole year could be significantly higher.
In 2004 the value of fake goods flowing into the country was a massive â‚¬2.3m from a total of 886 seizures. According to the Revenue's Intellectual Property Rights unit, which deals with fake goods, the majority of counterfeit detections are now made at the parcel post depot.
According to Noel Byrne, Customs IPR co-ordinator for the whole country, anything that can be copied and faked will be. Fake Hermes, Gucci and Louis Vuitton bags have been among the most numerous counterfeit bags detected, he said, coinciding with a rush for the real thing at designer shopping outlets.
Significant caches of sports and designer clothing, copying brands like Polo and Ralph Lauren, have also been detected by customs officers in the past year.
If these goods were not seized they would represent a significant loss to legitimate trade and would even put jobs at risk. And Revenue officials warn that, while people believe they are getting a bargain and are pulling the wool over the eyes of the design houses, the bottom line is that organised criminal gangs are profiting from the proceeds of the counterfeits.
In 1998 the OECD estimated that between 5pc and 7pc of world trade was counterfeit, amounting to â‚¬380bn in 2003. The European Union estimates that 200,000 jobs have been lost in Europe due to counterfeiting and piracy.