Counterfeiting and Fakes


Counterfeiting is the imitation of something in order to deceive. A counterfeit is a fake.

The Law protects businesses and individuals intellectual property rights, not only by making it an offence to mislead consumers, but also through special protection for Registered Trade Marks and copyrights.

A Trade Mark is any sign, including words, designs, letters, numerals or the shape of goods and its packaging,  which can be used to tell goods or services apart from someone else’s.

Copyright is a way of protecting the rights held over intellectual work - from books to computer programs, plays to photographs, films and TV programmes to music recordings.

The problem with fakes

  • Fakes are not what they seem.
  • Fakes are often produced by organised crime gangs to launder drugs money.
  • Fakes such as car parts, perfumes, alcohol and toys do not undergo any safety tests and may cause harm to the user.
  • Fakes put legitimate, tax-paying businesses out of business.
  • The cost of counterfeit goods to Britain in 2009 was an estimated £1.3 billion.  
  • It is estimated that Worldwide there is a loss of 380,000 jobs as a direct result of counterfeiting crime.


What we do

Trading Standards work closely with the Police and other organisations to carry out targeted inspections to combat counterfeiting and investigate any information provided by businesses and members of the public.

What you can do

The most important thing you can do is to say ‘NO’ to counterfeit goods and follow this simple checklist:

  • Be wary of bargains. Remember - if something seems too good to be true, it probably is!
  • Check the quality of the goods. Fakes will not be as good as the real thing.
  • Check labels and packaging for spelling mistakes and poorly printed logos.
  • Be careful when buying goods online and at markets, car boot sales, pubs and computer fairs, or other places where you may have difficulty contacting the seller after purchase.
  • Don’t buy goods from anyone who doesn’t provide you with a way to contact them if you want a refund. If the goods are sold by a business online they must provide their actual name and geographical address.

Anyone involved in the illegal supply of counterfeit goods can face a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. The offences relate to the production, sale or having the items in your possession for sale as well as assisting in any of these.

This unfair and often dangerous trade affects local businesses and consumers.  If you think someone is selling fakes in Argyll & Bute please contact Trading Standards, your call will be dealt with in the strictest confidence.

Business advice

If your business is based in Argyll and Bute and you need advice about this subject or other consumer and fair trading matters, you can contact Trading Standards

Further information