Christmas shopping or counterfeit shopping?

‘I hope this month will be a time to reflect and challenge the status quo that counterfeits and piracy are just about ‘getting a deal’
Christmas shopping or counterfeit shopping?

In this time of gift-giving, many of us have started thinking about what to buy for our precious ones. And many have in mind luxury items and high-end gadgets. Here, I'm talking about  Class A and Class B products which we know are counterfeits all the same.

It's easy to think that buying a knockoff product is harmless. After all, what is so dangerous about simply wanting to look rich while still being easy on the wallet? But buying dupes and fakes presents negative consequences that could hurt you and society at large. So before you go on a counterfeit shopping spree, I mean Christmas shopping spree, let us first dive into the dark dangers of counterfeiting and piracy:

1. Health Risks

The first and biggest issue with counterfeits is that they pose serious health risks. These products do not pass any safety checks, if they even go through such standard tests. Bringing counterfeits into your household could mean exposing yourself and your family to dangerous materials that could harm your health if inhaled or if they made contact with your skin.

Fake cosmetics, for one, are the most commonly counterfeited goods that may contain harmful chemicals like lead or arsenic. Counterfeit gadgets and devices could also easily catch fire or cause lethal electric shock.

2. Poor quality

Even if your counterfeit purchase doesn't seem likely to kill you, would you really opt for something that is inferior in quality and durability? Would you spend a few thousand pesos on a fake phone that could malfunction in a few weeks and force you to spend again on another one? Or would you rather save up a  few more bucks to  buy a nicer, longer lasting gadget that would put you at ease while staying connected with friends and family or getting your work done without the hassle of constant repairs and replacements? I'll take the second option anytime.         

3. Economic trade-offs

When you buy a counterfeit item, you are depriving the original producers the enjoyment of the revenues they rightfully deserve. Less profit could compel some businesses to cut back on manpower or abandon their expansion plans. Either way, it's an opportunity cost for workers who could have kept their jobs or people who could have gained new jobs if you only supported the growth of legitimate IP rights holders and creators.

We as citizens also have a lot to lose as taxes from the sale of these goods  — taxes which could be used to support our social welfare programs and services and infrastructure projects — are diverted from our coffers and "unknowingly" poured into the pockets of these IP thieves.

4. An impoverished creative industry

Our creative industry is a huge contributor to the economy. In 2022, the industry raked in P1.60 trillion, contributing 7.3 percent to the country's GDP and almost 7 million to employment. Supporting pirated digital goods is a dampener to the creative spirit of our artists, who have to work day jobs to support their families while still sustaining their creative pursuits.

5. The younger generations would think it's okay to steal

In the 2021 Baseline Study on IP Awareness conducted by IPOPHL and the World Intellectual Property Organization, we found that out of five age groups, it was the youngest that patronized pirated digital content the most. With the youth already vulnerable to patronizing IP rights-violating activities, we might be leading them on a darker road if we continue to show our support for counterfeit products.

So before you go on a counterfeit shopping spree, I mean Christmas shopping spree, let us first dive into the dark dangers of counterfeiting and piracy.

This November, IPOPHL hopes to put the dangers of counterfeiting and piracy in focus as we hold our first "IP Protection and Enforcement Summit" with a theme that tackles "Strategies for a Resilient Market and Digital Space."

The three-day event will gather anti-counterfeiting and anti-piracy experts from around the world to share best practices and discuss the ways forward for the Philippines' fight against these IP violations.

Panel discussions will draw out expert insights on the current challenges and threats to IP enforcement, international agreements and cooperation, new trends in IP crimes, emerging multi-sector approaches to deal with these crimes, and cross-border coordination.

I hope this month will be a time to reflect and challenge the status quo that counterfeits and piracy are just about "getting a deal." So before you pay for that fake bag or gadget, think again of the possible harm it could bring to your home, your community and the economy. And perhaps the best gift you could give this holiday is not buying them at all.

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