Cracking Down

This problem is complicated by China’s attitudes towards intellectual property (IP), the protection of which is not evenly enforced across the country. While the central government in Beijing may follow a strict enforcement of IP laws, local and regional governments often do not, and it is in these areas that the majority of counterfeiting takes place. In some cities, in fact, many of the largest employers are counterfeiters, but last year, China’s cabinet announced “a new round of crackdowns” on Internet-based crimes (including the sale of counterfeit goods).

The United States has also started cracking down, particularly in places like New York where the counterfeit market has become its own tourist attraction. According to the Department of Homeland Security, 500 million fake bags, belts, and wallets were confiscated last year.

In response, those peddling the fake designer goods are developing more complex and discrete methods to make a sale. Their business has moved from the sidewalks and into abandoned apartment buildings, where customers are quickly (and quietly) ushered in to make their purchases, reports CNBC. Sellers may use smartphones and tablets to display their offerings, before calling one of their partners for immediate delivery of the desired item.

Stamping out this black market business once and for all will require local and federal governments to collaborate more effectively -- and perhaps, for consumers to stop clammering over these dubiously sourced handbags.

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