Tuesday, August 13, 2013

WOLFF'S FLEA MARKET COUNTERFEIT MERCHANDISE GUIDE 1: IPHONE ACCESSORIES - Chargers, Earpods, Lightning Cables, Packaging


August 13, 2013
Too much to read? Just scroll down to the pictures below....

Flea market vendors may find this guide helpful when shopping for merchandise from websites, wholesalers, importers and other sources. While we do not wish to point fingers, the reality is that countless online sites like ebay, alibaba.com and dhgate.com, as well as your locally owned independent store and "a guy you know" provide an unfortunate mixture of legitimate and counterfeit products at "too good to be true" prices.  When obtaining your merchandise, please avoid the counterfeit and trademark infringing items pictured and described below.

These specific iPhone accessories have been chosen for this guide because of their popularity and prevalence online, in independently owned stores, at wholesalers and because of their eventual appearance at the flea market level. As always, realize that we are not legal or trademark experts, nor are we affiliated with Apple.  We are a small business that conducts ongoing counterfeit research via retail stores, wholesalers, news stories, independently owned stores, online manufacturers' websites, expert advice, etc. Trademarks are used for purposes of education and discussion and belong to the individual companies.

You are not allowed to sell counterfeits at Wolff's Flea Market, and will consequently be out hard-earned money, stuck with unsellable stock and possible permanently ejected from our venues.

 Remember that there can be a fine line between no-name generic compatible products and trademark infringing/counterfeit items. Problems arise in 2 different manners:
  1. DILUTED & CONFUSING: A no-name item is packaged or designed to look exactly or almost exactly like the authentic product (color, shape, similar packaging, etc.)  Consumers are led to believe that they are buying the real thing at a cheap price
  2. OUTRIGHT COUNTERFEIT: A no-name item purports to be the authentic item and labels itself using the name and logo of the authentic item.
The pictures below depict how inferior, illegal counterfeits are designed to look identical to authentic items. Do not purchase the counterfeits to resell!

EXAMPLE #1-CHARGER CUBES



EXAMPLE #2-EARPODS

REAL $29 APPLE EARPODS
                                                   
THE $2 OR LESS FAKES BELOW LOOK ALIKE
AND ARE CONSIDERED COUNTERFEIT BY US!
FAKE FROM DHGATE.COM
FAKE FROM DHGATE.COM
FAKE FROM DHGATE.COM


EXAMPLE #3-LIGHTNING CABLES
FAKE $4.18 AT DHGATE.COM
REAL LIGHTNING TO USB
CABLE $19

EXAMPLE #4-PACKAGING
Compare these 2 boxes and you will see that they look almost identical. The box on the left is missing the Apple logo and contains a counterfeit cable. It infringes upon the real packaging design and leads consumers the think they are purchasing the real deal.

LEFT: Counterfeit box-missing logo, but otherwise looks like the real one
MIDDLE: Counterfeit Lightning Cable in a "China Bag"
RIGHT: Authentic box with Apple logo


EXAMPLE #5-CHINA BAGS
With no offense intended to our overseas friends, the truth of the matter is that 80% of all counterfeit products are imported from China. Many of these items are not packaged in branded boxes, but come in clear, unlabeled bags. When we see allegedly branded items in these bags, we suspect the merchandise as being fake, since no licensing or authentic product information is present. 
More on packaging and labeling in another guide.
Box of counterfeit Apple chargers in China Bags
Box of counterfeit Lightning Cables in China Bags




AS ALWAYS, PLEASE CALL 847-524-9590 WITH QUESTIONS

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

WORKING TOGETHER TO FIGHT COUNTERFEITING

A flea market is a small business community comprised of even smaller businesses and individual vendors. The vast majority of merchandise sold at flea markets falls into the typical beloved categories:  resale items, antiques, collectibles, vintage items, furniture, weird stuff, crafts, books, jewelry, clothing, accessories, junque, overstock, store returns, produce, gourmet food.

However, the heavy presence of expensive smart phones and electronics in the global marketplace has caused the parallel appearance of 3 versions of potential problem merchandise:

  1. Generic components- possibly allowed
  2. Compatible components-possible allowed
  3. Evil, infringing counterfeits-not allowed
Sometimes a very fine line distinguishes between these three version and unfortunately, it is up to us to analyze and determine an item's appropriateness for our market. Sometimes we are able to consult with an individual company to glean quick information, but often we do this the long way

Port of Seattle
Wolff's continually researches the latest products, news and lawsuits and sets parameters for which type of merchandise is allowed or banned. This may change weekly!

Most counterfeits arrive on freight barges from China at ports on the east (New York) or west (California, Washington, Alaska) coasts. If not found and seized by customs at those points in the pipeline, counterfeits eventually work their way into the middle of the country-namely Chicago, which has the third highest presence of counterfeits in the country. We subscribe to Google alerts for many licensed brands in order to predict what items may be coming our way and are hopefully ready with starter information should the item appear at our market.

When I say appear, the item may attempt to trickle in as a single low quality fake. For example, we were ready for the appearance of counterfeit ____ phone cases, and were able to determine which items didn't belong. Those vendors who attempted to sell were quickly evicted.

While we fight counterfeits, our scale is obviously a small dot in the equation. Here are examples of larger scale efforts. Until the sources along the counterfeit pipeline are stopped, fakes will trickle into the country and end up at independently owned stores, mall kiosks, warehouses, ebay, craigslist, pop-up stores, "a guy" and flea markets. I will update this site as more news appears.

  1. US and China working together: http://usfinancepost.com/us-china-join-forces-to-seize-counterfeit-products-4160.html
  2. Apple to take back and exchange counterfeit chargers: http://www.apple.com/support/usbadapter-takeback/ 
  3. Facebook bans counterfeit sites: http://www.10news.com/money/consumer/facebook-sites-selling-counterfeit-bags-close-pages07112013 
  4. Google's Trademark and Counterfeit Policy: http://siia.net/piracy/workshop/Google_Chen.pdf