The Philippines isn’t exactly known for strict anti-piracy measures. In fact, we’ve been on the watch list of the US Trade Representative for years now due to rampant counterfeiting in the country.
Despite having government bodies fighting the influx of fake products in the country, shopping meccas like Greenhills and Divisoria are living proof that counterfeit items are sold openly here.
Fortunately, not everyone is inclined in buying counterfeit goods—and for good reason.
So how will you be able to tell if a product is genuine or not? You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to learn these. With a little help, some common sense, and these tips, you’ll be able to defend yourself from tricksters who just want to steal your money.
The cold hard facts
Counterfeiting is a serious business, and forgers earn some serious money from copying goods. Some of the not-so-fun-facts about the underground world of fake goods are the following:
- The World Customs Organization estimates that fake item trading amounts to 7-10 percent of the total world trading. In 2016, the group estimated that the total worth of this shady business is already at $461 billion—more than 30 times Henry Sy’s net worth.
- Sweatshops of imitation goods use slave labor to produce their wares. Couple that with the lack of research and development, marketing, and shoddy materials, it is no surprise that counterfeit goods are just a fraction of the original ones.
- Think luxury goods are the bread and butter of counterfeiters? Actually, copying designer handbags is just the tip of the iceberg, at around four percent according to the WCO. Some of the lesser-known pirated goods you may have already encountered are medicine, brake pads, and even parts of an airline engine.
- Fake goods are just the means to a bigger end; operators of these criminal empires are using the counterfeit market in connection to illegal drug trade and money laundering.
- The top 10 brands counterfeiters love to imitate are the following: Microsoft, Nike, Adidas, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Sony, Lacoste, Reebok, Viagra, and Ray-Ban.
How to spot fakes
Things get tricky if you’re buying a previously owned item. In case you’re having doubts about the veracity of the wares you’re about to get, why not keep in mind some of the handy earmarks of authentic goods? Learn how you can spot fake items by the tell-tale signs.
Copies of Microsoft products sold in places like mall basements and secondhand phone shops are no doubt pirated ones. However, in case you try to get a copy of a Microsoft product from a friend, check the details such as ridged prints, latent image that reveals the “M” if viewed from another angle, a holographic disc, and high-quality package print.
The biggest takeaway if a Nike footwear is legit is the stock keeping number, which should match the serial printed on the box. However, other telltale qualities of a legit Nike shoe are the sewn label at the tongue, rubber sole that returns to its original shape even after bending, and seamless stiches all over the shoes.
The Yeezy Boost, one of the most highly coveted pairs ever released by Adidas, is also one of the most duplicated. However, Yeezy Boost pairs come with unique signatures that even good forgers cannot copy. Among those trademarks are the proximity of the heel tab to the ankle collar, patterned stiches on the toe, and textured insole. In addition, the “YZY” and trefoil logos are inconspicuous.
Authentic Burberry handbags are products of a high-level craftsmanship that shows attention to detail. Stitches are straight and clean without any room for error. Meanwhile, the hardware has a certain weight, engraved with fine details, and does not chip or flake.
The “made in” label indicates one of the three workshops of Burberry and underneath it is the style number. Finally, the bag comes with a dust bag and booklet, both as detailed as the bag itself.
Louis Vuitton’s intricate details will give away if it is authentic or not. However, the biggest tells of a piece’s authenticity lie in the hardware, stamping, and date code. Authentic Louis Vuitton items have hardware that’s weighed and shows precise the imprint is. Meanwhile, the date code will reveal the date of production and the origin. The country codes are as follows:
- France – A0, A1, A2, AA, AAS, AH, AN, AR, AS, BA, BJ, BU, DR, DU, CO, CT, ET, FL, LW, MB, MI, NO, RA, RI, SD, SF, SL, SN, SP, SR, TJ, TH, TR, TS, VI, VX
- Italy – BC, BO, CE, FO, MA, RC, RE, SA, TD
- Spain – CA, GI, LO, LB, LM, LW
- USA – FC, FH, FL, LA, OS, SD
- Switzerland – DI, FA
- Germany – LP
Meanwhile, the stamping will be the quickest and surest way to authenticate a Louis Vuitton item. Some of the characteristics of a genuine stamping are:
- The tail on the L is very short.
- The Os are very round and look bigger than the L.
- The Ts are almost touching each other or are so close that it looks like it.
- Lettering should be thin to somewhat thin, clear and very crisp.
- Study the general font used and how it is aligned.
It’s no secret that the trade of knockoff phones in the Philippines is rampant. To check if the smartphone you’re going to buy is legit, look for the IMEI number, run it on a IMEI verifying website, and find out if it says Sony.
In case you don’t have the luxury of time to do that, give the unit a visual sweep for flaws in the design. Finally, test the phone’s functions, especially the camera, to see if it performs the way it should.
Precision watchmaking is at the heart of every Rolex timepiece. First, a real Rolex feels heavier, primarily because it’s made of high-quality metals. Meanwhile, the quartz dial “stutters” as it moves, as opposed to the original that moves smoothly.
Check the bezel and the winders if they are carefully crafted and show intricate details. Finally, the cyclops lens of the original will magnify the date, a feat that even the finest forgers cannot imitate.
The luxury market is an exciting place. While there is no chance that you’ll get a counterfeit from boutiques themselves, it’s the secondhand luxury market that’s risky to enter.
Just keep in mind to carefully inspect the item before you close a deal. After all, no one wants to pay a fortune for something that doesn’t accumulate value over time.