Name a popular brand, and there's likely a counterfeit version of it available somewhere in the world. The World Customs Organization reports that counterfeit goods account for nearly 10% of worldwide trade, an estimated $500 billion annually. Nearly every industry is affected, ranging from footwear to pharmaceuticals to batteries.
Click through our gallery as BusinessWeek takes a look at some of the industries popular with today's counterfeiters. ' Read BW's Related Story
The product counterfeiters most often try to sneak into the U.S. is footwear. Sneakers, shoes, and other products accounted for 40% of the total knockoff goods seized by U.S. government agencies last year.
Estimated annual industry loss: $12 billion U.S. agency seizures 2007: $77.8 million
Recently, two Atlanta men were sentenced to 15 and 51 months of jail time, respectively, for selling more than $2.2 million dollars worth of counterfeit jerseys on eBay. The men were also found to have 22,000 jerseys, which were seized by authorities, many of which were knock-off NFL jerseys. Reebok is the official jersey maker of the NFL.
If you're buying popular electronic gadgets off the street, there's a good chance it's a fake. Consumer electronics (cell phones, radios, power strips, etc.) accounted for 8% of the total counterfeit goods seized by U.S. agencies last year.
In 2007, Sportsman's Warehouse, with nearly 70 stores nationwide, had to recall roughly 4,400 flashlights sold in its stores because Panasonic identified the batteries in the flashlights as counterfeits, which were a high fire risk and could cause burns.
For people who like labels but don't want to pay hundreds of dollars for the real product, fake purses and handbags have become a popular alternative. Handbags accounted for 7% of the total counterfeit goods seized by U.S. agencies in 2007.
In an effort to stop the widespread proliferation of Louis Vuitton counterfeits, the company successfully sued online auction site eBay, claiming that up to 90% of the Louis Vuitton products sold on the site were fakes. The company was awarded more than $60 million in the lawsuit, though eBay is appealing.
As with most counterfeits, it's hard to tell the real from the fake. That's why expensive timepieces are popular with counterfeiters and some consumers. Watches accounted for 7% of the total counterfeit goods seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2007.