In Knockoff - The Deadly Trade in Counterfeit Goods, author Tim Phillips investigates the matrix of factors that enable the counterfeit business to flourish. From unenforced governmentregulations, companies not taking appropriate measures to protect their intellectual property, and individual consumers turning a blind eye to obvious knock-offs, Phillips finds the causes to be widespread and diverse. The author also takes an inside look at different counterfeit markets around the world, traveling from New York City’s Canal Street to similar counterfeit hotbeds in urban markets, in an effort to better understand the inner workings and devise solutions.
Phillips tracks the consequences resulting from the proliferation of the counterfeit market. The economic ramifications are clear; loss of billions of dollars in global revenue, loss of millions of potential jobs, and a decline in investment by foreign companies in countries where IP protection is seen to be weak. There are also serious social and moral issues at play, which Phillips incisively describes. These range from hazardous work conditions and low wages for factory workers, funding of criminal organizations involved in drug, weapon, and human trafficking through the sale of counterfeits, and the health and safety risks that some counterfeit products present to consumers.
Phillips book will continue to remain relevant, as new data from the ICC suggests that counterfeiting will reach 1.7 trillion dollars by 2015. This staggering number is a steep increase from the 2008 figure of $600 billion and points to the growing threat of counterfeit goods on the global economy and society at large. “If the knockoff company was a business, it would be the world’s biggest, twice the size of Wal-Mart, its nearest competitor” writes Phillips.
Knockoff looks at the magnitude of the counterfeit business as it continues to grow, and examines what will be needed to fight its advance; the escalated enforcement measures by authorities, increased IP security by companies, and perhaps most importantly of all, an educated population of consumers.