Product Counterfeiting: How Fakes are Undermining U.S. Jobs, Innovation, and Consumer Safety

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Not only do they undermine intellectual property laws and hurt the companies that spend billions on research, but they can be lethal for people using them. A United Nations report lists phony medicines as the "greatest concern" when it comes to counterfeit goods. This is because not only can they result in the deaths of people using them, but medicines with insufficient doses can lead dangerous pathogens to become resistant to even the legitimate drugs.

10 Most Counterfeited Products in America

Many of those drugs were shown to have insufficient levels of medicine, said Leggett. There are several examples of counterfeit or mislabeled products having fatal consequences. Toxic cough syrup in Panama, tainted baby formula in China and fake teething powder in Nigeria have all led to the death of children over the past few years. The proliferation of these dangerous products may help focus more public attention on the problem.

It may be hard to get people worked up over the economic costs of bootlegged DVD's or illegally downloaded music. But as Leggett points out: "When the toy that you thought was from Disney contains lead paint, then you care. Viagra: world's most counterfeited drug.

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Personal Finance. The Motley Fool Paid Partner. LendingTree Paid Partner. CNNMoney Sponsors. The crackdown resulted in more than 1, seizures.


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Most counterfeit labels and tags bear popular trademarks and are intended to be applied to counterfeit products to improve their authenticity. Homeland Security reports that it seized shipments of fake labels and tags in , roughly 20 more than in the year prior. These products include items such as fabric labels and patches, adhesive stickers and holograms, paper hangtags, and zippers and are meant to be applied to a variety of consumer products such as apparel, handbags, shoes, electronics, and software.

Counterfeit computers have greater consequences than just lost profits for retailers, however. Fake computers and computer parts are often manufactured with substandard materials and can lead to sometimes dangerous malfunctions.


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The Department of Homeland Security reports that in U. The drop in seizures is not likely an indication of decreased piracy activity, but rather of a shift in medium. Since the founding of peer-to-peer file sharing website Napster in , pirated music, movies, and games have shifted from physical discs to internet downloads and streaming. According to the Record Industry Association of America, online piracy has led to tens of thousands of job losses in the music industry and undermined the music creation process overall.

Customs and Border Protection seized 2, shipments of pharmaceutical and personal care products in , an increase from 2, in Counterfeit pharmaceutical products have more than just financial consequences, however. Many fake drugs are manufactured with the wrong dosage or may not contain the active ingredient of the medication it is designed to imitate.

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Fake handbags, which often imitate expensive designer brands such as Burberry, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Yves Saint Laurent, can result in lost profits for the legitimate manufacturers. The growth of online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay has likely facilitated sales of counterfeit goods. Following merchant suits, however, such companies have been cracking down on counterfeit sales. Expensive watch brands such as Rolex, Cartier, and Bulgari are frequently counterfeited.

Until recently, seized fake handbags and wallets represented a greater market value than fake watches and jewelry. While e-commerce websites such as eBay and Alibaba help facilitate the trade of counterfeit goods, an open market for fake watches has existed in New York City for more than 30 years.

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Customs and Border Protection seized 3, shipments of counterfeit footwear in , an increase from 2, in and 1, in In November, U. CBP and Hong Kong customs officials conducted a joint operation that resulted in the seizure of shipments of counterfeit consumer electronics.

Counterfeit consumer electronics are often manufactured with substandard materials, and in some cases these can pose a threat to the safety of consumers.

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