March 26, 2017 – The National
The trade in fake or counterfeit handbags is one of the necessary evils of the industry. For one thing, clamping down on the trade of fake goods is extraordinarily difficult. Given the branding of these goods as reflecting one’s aspirations in life, many companies tolerate low levels of trade in fake goods as it helps elevate the exclusivity of their brands. On a state level, however, the trade of fake goods undermines a country’s commitment to the enforcement of intellectual property rights and the rule of law.
The growth of the fake goods trade in the UAE has presented several challenges for authorities, and the latest proposal by Dubai Police to punish those that buy such goods reflects a different approach to solving the problem. While punishing those who purchase fake goods is not without precedent around the world, the fact is that many people can easily recall the location of a fake goods shop. If we all know where these shops are located, why don’t the police and other authorities? Again, this is not an isolated problem. From Milan to Paris and New York, fake goods are traded with relative ease.
Cracking down on the trade by closing downing shops that sell fake goods is a critical part of reinforcing our commitment to intellectual property laws and the overall security of our retail sector. It has also been widely documented that the trade of fake goods including handbags and luxury watches directly and indirectly funds extremist activity and the trade in contraband such as illegal drugs and fake medicines. As one of the world’s major transit points, the UAE must maintain vigilance over these industries and crack down on illegal activity.
While punishing the purchaser of fake goods will certainly curb the trade, it is also an implicit admission that efforts to crack down on suppliers are not achieving their targets. The UAE is a shopping destination for millions of people from around the world, and better awareness initiatives that inform the public about the fake goods will help alleviate the problem without the need of criminal punishment. After all, many people are simply unaware of the dark connotations of the fake goods industry. Awareness will do wonders by illuminating the public without the threat of prosecution. As the Dubai Police have warned, this is a large problem that will require a long-term plan of attack.