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Thursday, April 9, 2015

ENTER THE RESEARCH ZONE - TIPS

This educational document was shared with other flea market participants during my round table discussion at the 2015 National Flea Market Association Conference in Las Vegas.

Prologue:
If you read this post, you will understand that we take merchandise research very seriously. Sometimes we can determine that an item is authentic or counterfeit right on the spot or in just a few moments. Other times, we may need to send the item to The Research Zone. This paper offers tips for conducting your own research.

*Remember - we do not authenticate or allow the following brands (new/used/real/fake): Coach, Louis Vuitton, OtterBox, LifeProof, Chanel, Gucci, MAC and sometimes others.

Believe me when I tell you that shopping at the mall for me is completely ruined now. It is no longer a relaxing stroll. It is no longer a place to people watch or look at pretty things just for the heck of it.

I cannot be placed in a retail setting without my Research Zone buzzer awakening my Counterfighter mentality. Invariably, some designer or licensed item grabs my attention and draws me in.

A typical example: I am walking with my family, engaged in conversation, and from afar I see the Journeys sign and their doorway display of Converse Allstars. I craftily duck inside the store because I remember one tiny detail I needed to confirm on the sole of an authentic Chuck Taylor shoe so that I could compare it with something I saw at the market. Observers might find me weird as they watch me pick up the shoe, feel its weight and then rub the sole like a magic lamp... One reason my family doesn't follow me.

They are up ahead looking for ice cream. But before I can catch up, I notice the Lids store and want to confirm a secret bit of New Era authentication information that I may figured out on my own. I won't tell you what it is, but I quizzed myself on a half dozen hats, and felt refreshed and good to go. Yes, it was unusual for someone to be flipping hats willy nilly, but I put them back.

Done and Done.

By now my family has finished their ice cream and is ready to go.



WE AREN’T LAWYERS. THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. We share with you a few helpful analytical skills, sources & strategies. We do not authenticate designer handbags and ban the sale of certain brands. Your awareness of counterfeit identification can lend credibility to your position.
ENTER THE RESEARCH ZONE-TIPS
WOLFF’S FLEA MARKET 2015

ON THE SPOT ONLINE RESEARCH
  1. Use the Red Laser bar code scanner app on your phone. What comes up? Correct item? Different item? Retail store? Amazon/eBay listing? Numbers? Nothing? Be suspicious if there is no bar code on a package.
  2. Counterfeiters generate & replicate accurate bar codes, so a scan might not tell the whole story
  3. Brand’s official website-does item exist? How much should it (or a comparable item) cost?
  4. Search (BRAND NAME) + COUNTERFEIT, CHEAP, WHOLESALE, REPLICA, etc.
  5. Google search for informational/comparative “guides” regarding commonly counterfeited brands
  6. Search example: “How to tell the difference between real and fake (BRAND NAME)”
NO QUICK ANSWER? GO SHOPPING!
IF IT'S NOT ONE THING,
THEN IT'S ANOTHER
  1. Examine authentic products at retail stores
  2. Take notes on item details, labels, wording, packaging
  3. If comfortable, ask an employee for permission to open a package.
  4. If possible, take pictures
  5. Purchase authentic items for study
  6. Call a brand’s customer service # with questions. This action provides inconsistent results. Answers are only as good as the representative’s ability and willingness to stray from script and connect you to a knowledgeable person. Be patient.
  7. Find a helpful expert, vendor, store manager/employee or brand representative
BUY/BORROW A FAKE FOR STUDY
  1. Online sources that sell real and counterfeit products: eBay, Amazon, craigslist
  2. Do you know of a store that wholesales brand name items to your vendors?
  3. Ask vendor if you can borrow the item in question or pay their cost to obtain for your research (vendors may even give it to you-and of course also remove other offending merchandise).
  4. Purchase counterfeit purses at local thrift shops. Don’t even get us started on this subject...
  5. A nice employee might be willing to go dumpster diving if you promise to bake him chocolate chip cookies.
ONGOING RESEARCH & SEARCH TERMS
  1. Fortunately, you can apply the same parameters to many types of counterfeit merchandise
  2. Unfortunately, you cannot apply the same parameters to all types of counterfeit merchandise
  3. Keep current with news, raids, arrests, trademark lawsuits, popular/in-demand products, brands, logos
  4. Subscribe to Google Alerts for relevant keywords and phrases: (also use as SEARCH TERMS)
  • Counterfeit, arrest, lawsuit + purses, handbag, phone cases, clothing, NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, etc.
  • Apple, Samsung, other tech or electronic brands
  • Counterfeit, arrest, lawsuit + designers (Coach, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, Michael Kors, etc.)
  • Counterfeit + Arrest
  • Counterfeit + flea market, swap meet, store, website, kiosk, customs
  • Ice.gov, Homeland security + counterfeit
  • Lawsuit + counterfeit, trademark, dilution
  • OTHER
HELPFUL INFORMATION/SOURCES/GUIDES
  1. thecounterfeitreport.com
  2. ebay guides
  3. spotfakehandbags.com
  4. ice.gov
  5. iacc.org
  6. uspto.gov
  7. TTAB
  8. ipcybercrime.com
COUNTERFEIT MERCHANDISE SOURCES
Missing here is our directory of known counterfeit sites. We visit those sites for research, but do not feel comfortable publicizing them to the world. Unfortunately they are too easy to find.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

LEARN TO IDENTIFY LOW LEVEL COUNTERFEIT PURSES

One of the cheapest ways to make a counterfeit purse is to simply take a no-name "blank" purse and add a designer sticker or metal emblem.

So obvious, so fake, so illegal.

We don't allow counterfeit purses of any level at Wolff's Flea Market, and this educational post should not be construed as instructions on how to make a counterfeit purse. Don't do it.

Images and links shown for purposes of discussion and education.

People are arrested and imprisoned for this crime!

This happened at flea markets and supports our policy of not allowing certain brands of merchandise at our markets

Below are a couple of examples.  If you see an alleged designer purse boasting an emblem, just pick on the label to see if it is a pull-off sticker or a loosely secured metal emblem.

Then. Walk. Away.

Or, if you are me, pull the fake tag off and add it to your sick collection.


Close-up of counterfeit PRADA clip-on emblem


The blank purse is sort of cute. Ridiculously ruined by a fake GUCCI clip-on emblem


Forgot to polish my nails

COMPARISON OF REAL VS. FAKE PACKAGING

When purchasing new name brand items, look for appropriate and proper packaging that indicate that the item is authentic.
Note the differences between authentic retail packaging and improper/counterfeit or blank packaging on the right of each section. 

Authentic packaging includes at least:
Licensing information
Company address/contact info
Company logo
Company font 
Product and model information
UPC Codes

Beware of items that are priced cheaply and come in generic cello or blank packaging. The contents of such packaging is usually counterfeit.

PROPER LABELS: WHY WE LOOK INSIDE

Why do we stroll by your booth, grab a few items, turn them inside out, nod and walk away?

We are inspecting certain name-brand and licensed merchandise to make sure it is legit. While we are not trademark attorneys, we study authentic products with proper labels and tags.  We can often (but not always-that would make our job too easy) discern legitimacy by merely looking at sewn labels.

Brands identify their products with their names, logos and other details on well-sewn or applied tags.
They do not use generic or Made in China sewn tags.
Period.

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:
NEW ERA HAT, NORTH FACE DENALI JACKET, ADIDAS MEXICO HOME SOCCER JERSEY




Of course, some counterfeiters attempt to replicate the real labels, but they usually don't seem to get it right.




Thursday, April 2, 2015

THERE'S A BUST FOR THAT (COUNTERFEIT) PART 2

As a follow up to our 2013 blog post:

WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY DAY: There's a Bust for That Counterfeit!

We share with you links to recent significant (in our own minds) busts that have assisted us in forming cementing our opinions and policy.  Remember ongoing research regarding counterfeits remains a crucial tool. Arrests do not necessarily mean that a person has been found guilty. Please read further on subjects listed below in order to obtain the most up to date information. We will add more links as we find them. How can you find out more? We recommend that you subscribe to Google Alerts for a variety of counterfeit and brand name related key words.

INDIVIDUAL ARRESTED:
http://fox13now.com/2015/03/16/strike-task-force-arrests-man-on-charges-of-selling-counterfeit-merchandise/

ONLINE SELLER ARRESTED FOR FAKE IPHONES:
http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=33894606

OTHER: Article, "The Top 8 Biggest Counterfeit Busts and Seizures"
https://blog.stigmasearch.com/the-top-5-biggest-counterfeit-busts/


Brands involved in one or more of the above news stories:
Michael Kors
Chanel
Coach
Louis Vuitton
Beats by Dr. Dre
OtterBox
Nike
Air Jordan
Monster
Polo
Hello Kitty
North Face
Apple

*All of these brand and many more are on our "Brand Watch List".

BANNED MERCHANDISE COLLAGE
ONE OF MANY EDUCATIONAL COLLAGES