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Shun the show-off, avoid fakes and buy non-branded items in UAE 22-12-2019

Counterfeits appeal to those who want to show off a certain social status.

To help eliminate fake merchandise in the market, an Intellectual Property (IP) law firm has advised consumers, who are looking for cheap goods, to buy quality non-luxury or branded items than opting for counterfeit products.

"If one cannot afford to buy expensive products, there are some options which are almost or of the same quality as the branded ones but don't carry fake marks," Hatem Abdel Ghani, director at the The Legal Group, a law firm based in Dubai, told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the recently concluded Intellectual Property and Brand Protection Training.

Ghani observed that counterfeits appeal to those who want to show off a certain social status but cannot actually afford to buy genuine luxury items.

He pointed out that it is better to buy cheap non-branded items - like shoes or bags - than showing off with fake ones. "In this way, you are not abetting the proliferation of counterfeit items and you are protected as a consumer," he explained.

When it comes to fighting fake products, he said that the problem is that people think they're getting the real thing when they actually are not. "Those people need to be protected," he said.

Ghani noted that the quality and manner of producing counterfeit items is improving every day. "Counterfeiters are using advanced technology to copy real ones and that is why the UAE is collaborating with global brands and using technology to identify genuine from fake," he added.

Authorities, meanwhile, are making a significant dent in curbing fake products. According to Dubai's Department of Economic Development, the total value of fake items seized last year amounted to Dh332 million, a big drop from Dh1.6 billion worth of counterfeits seized in 2016.

"The UAE is very proactive in fighting fake goods and we are seeing the results," Ghani underlined.

He noted that authorities are using advanced technology to identify counterfeit luxury goods.

Ghani said that he also supports the government's plan to increase the penalty for selling counterfeit products to as much as Dh250,000.

He said at present, the fine for selling fake products, according to the federal law is between Dh5,000 and Dh10,000 on first offence. Dubai has set the penalty up to Dh105,000 while Sharjah has pegged the fine at 50 per cent of the market value of the confiscated goods.

"Taking down the counterfeiters is a big task but it can be done. It is important that brand owners, legal teams and government entities continue to collaborate to combat the illegal trade of fake products," Ghani pointed out.

Real numbers

>Last year, nearly 20 million counterfeit items were seized in Dubai. These included handbags, cosmetics, sunglasses, and perfume, which amounted to a market value of Dh332 million. This was considerably less than 26.2 million pieces of counterfeit goods confiscated in 2017, with a net value of Dh1.19 billion.

>Moreover, Dubai Customs has foiled 340 attempts to smuggle fake goods, worth Dh63 million from January 2018 to March 2019; Cosmetics and body care products top the list of fake items seized,

>Dubai Police has confiscated as many as 25,560 fake fire prevention products, worth Dh2.5 million in first week of December