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George Petersen • April 2019Editor's Note • April 5, 2019

It’s one of the oldest cons in history. Counterfeiting is normally something that one associates with bogus $100 bills, fake Rolex watches and cheap knockoffs of Louis Vuitton and Gucci handbags. Yet, these days, the list is nearly endless. And for some people, the lure of having a pair of $4.99 fake Versace or Ray Ban sunglasses is nearly irresistible, so the quest for such cheap status symbols has led to a thriving market for such items. Where there’s a demand, there are people who will break the law to provide for eager buyers.

A fake pair of designer loafers is one thing, but counterfeiting extends to nearly every category of product, and is especially serious when it comes to items such as pharmaceuticals or aircraft parts. In fact, numerous NTSB-investigated airplane crashes over the years have been traced to faked aerospace parts, including things as simple as bolts and screws. And once in the general market, low-grade fraudulent fasteners with fake load capacity markings can easily be mixed with genuine FAA-approved parts and find their way into the supply chain. The same can apply to bogus prescription drugs, where there is a high profit potential — and clearly, the effects of a fake medicine on a patient could be devastating.

Counterfeit mics seized in a recent raid.

‡‡         Pro Audio, Too…

It would be nice if pro audio was immune to counterfeiting, but this is hardly the case. Six years ago, we reported on an influx of bogus Cat-5 cable, which proves that criminals will create fakes of anything if there’s money involved. Imagine the nightmare of wiring a facility with counterfeit network cabling, only to find out later the wiring was not to spec — it’s certainly a good reason to make sure your suppliers are on the level.

Recently, Shure reported on a massive bust of a Chinese company making counterfeit wireless mics, amplifiers and signal processors, bearing Shure, Sennheiser, Yamaha and dbx trademarks. Once upon a time, counterfeiters would make some change in the logo or name spelling to try to sidestep trademark laws, using variants like “Pamsonic,” “Fenber” or “Gilson,” but these days, suppliers of fake goods seem more brazen and copy the logo exactly. If you run into a small store to grab a two pack of 9-volt batteries on the way to a gig, are you sure you’re actually getting Duracells?

Lately, particularly with the popularity of the Internet, there is a rise in outlets — including Amazon and eBay, among others — where counterfeit goods can more easily enter the general populace. And certainly disturbing to me is that I recently received some sponsored ads on my Facebook page from a Chinese website offering $99 knockoffs of Fender and Gibson guitars. Here, there wasn’t even the slightest attempt to disguise the fact that the goods were marked with spot-on replicas of those manufacturers logos.

Clearly, this sort of thing has to stop, but it’s not necessarily an easy proposition, and requires a coordinated effort on the part of both companies and customs/law enforcement agents on both sides of the ocean. Here again, given the number of companies doing overseas manufacturing, spotting the real items from the knockoffs becomes more complicated, but it is something that can — and must — be done. And this recent action by Shure is a positive step in the right direction.


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