Counterfeit goods

Counterfeit goods are unauthorised copies of products and are illegal. They are also known by slang terms such as ‘fakes’ 'pirated' ‘snides’ ‘replicas’ ‘copies’. 

Counterfeit products can include:

  • clothing
  • music
  • films
  • perfume
  • jewellery
  • car parts
  • tyres
  • tools
  • electrical goods
  • batteries
  • children's toys

These products may seem like a bargain but you may be duped into paying the retail price for what you believed was a genuine item or even something that is unsafe. 

Why you shouldn't buy counterfeit goods

  • The goods may be poor quality, faulty and are often unsafe to use.
  • If the fake goods are faulty, you will have difficulty returning them or getting your money back.
  • Sales of fake goods have been proven to fund organised crime, such as drug dealing, human trafficking and prostitution. They can also provide an additional, undeclared income to benefit cheats.
  • If you buy fake goods, the original designer and maker lose out, the knock on effect can seriously damage genuine retailers and in the worst case scenario, cost jobs.
  • People who sell counterfeit goods don't pay taxes on what they sell and again this costs the economy and affects everyone in the UK

How to spot them

Price, place and packaging can all be indicators of whether something is genuine. Supermarkets, well-known retailers and brand-name websites are much less likely to sell fakes. But a vast range of products for sale in the street, in temporary shops, markets or online could be counterfeit. 

How can I report counterfeiting?

You can report a person producing or selling counterfeit goods, by contacting Citizens Advice (external website)

If you would like to report someone without giving your name, then you can contact Crimestoppers (external website).

Registered trademarks

Registered trademarks are protected under the Trade Marks Act 1994. It is illegal to apply a registered trade mark to goods without the permission of the trade mark owner. 

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 deals with issues that may occur with any artistic or literary work such as:

  • books
  • computer programs
  • music
  • films
  • other electronic media

The copyright may be infringed if these goods are copied without the permission of the copyright owner.

Advice to traders

In most cases, to say “I didn’t know” will not be a defence. You must make an effort to ensure the goods you sell are genuine. 

Ask your supplier for written assurance that the goods you are buying are genuine, licensed product and comply with the above Acts. If they cannot or will not give a written assurance you have to consider that the goods may be counterfeit.

Do not sell any product that you have doubts about, contact us or the rights owner e.g. Disney or the BBC for more details. 

Trade advice

You can visit our trade advice page to create and download an information pack to give you information on how your business can comply with the law.