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Behind Dior number two…

Sometimes, the best defense against a knock-off is to be a good proofreader. In this case, we received a fakefinder report about counterfeit Diorshow brand mascara offered for sale on eBay, who reported the product was riddled with misspellings, including this text from the product box: “With its unique brush and formula combination that sweeps through everv lash separating and coating rem from toot to tip lifting them up and out for visibly longen and curved lashes” (emphasis ours). We can only assume that product is not intended to coat the musical group R.E.M. from “toot to tip,” and couldn’t speculate exactly what that might mean. The box also apparently listed the “ingredients“, in case the prior spelling errors weren’t enough.

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Another cautionary flag in this tale came when the consumer went back to the seller to complain that something was not right with the product they had received. The seller proposed two options – to pay the buyer $4 to not leave negative feedback, or for $6, to return the goods and not leave negative feedback. As noted in the fakefinder report, “this seller is listing many … very questionable products and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to receive their special offers to not announce my findings.”

Thanks for helping isitfake? shed some light on this particular case.

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A letter missing?

This report came to isitfake from a user in the UK who told us about a web site that is “selling CLEARLY counterfeit goods.” Thanks for the report! (For the purposes of the isitfake gallery, we’ll discuss the goods being offered for sale, but will not give them free publicity by posting their web site address.) The site we were sent to evaluate listed counterfeits of a number of famous and luxury brands, most of which were being sold as “Brand Top XXX”, where XXX was the brand name they were copying. These counterfeit sunglasses were one example: oakey-sunglasses It’s another case of almost right, but not quite: the logo on the sunglasses themselves appears to have been changed to slide the “L” and “E” closer together. So, instead of OAKLEY, you get OAKEY. The counterfeiters probably thought they were being very clever. Beyond the name and logo treatment, other warning flags in this case included the price point (it’s being offered for sale at a small fraction of the usual sale price of the genuine Oakley brand merchandise) and the source of the web site (which claimed to be a U.S. site, but was registered to an organization in Shanghai, China; this information is freely available in many cases with a quick WHOIS search).

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Some wrinkles in authenticity

 

The brand BOTOX® Cosmetic has certainly experienced tremendous success over the past several years. And, if imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, then the folks at Allergan, Inc. (the company behind the BOTOX® product and brand) must be feeling very flattered indeed.

 

Beyond products which have directly infringed on the name (as in this FDA enforcement action from a few years ago), there are more than a few which appear to attempt to leverage the brand’s recognition and goodwill, even if they are not direct replacements of the injected treatment.

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A Florida plastic surgeon, Dr. Thomas Fiala, reports having encountered a number of Botox counterfeits. His blog includes this helpful information:

“These imitations are not FDA-approved, and vary widely in their potency, quality, and source. But they certainly are cheap…. Many of these imitators originate in China. Brand names such as BTX-A, Botutox, Estetox-A, Refinex, Novotox, Canitox, QuickStar and Linurase are commonly seen knock-offs.”

So, how do you avoid getting stuck with a knockoff? The usual rules of thumb apply: if the brand name doesn’t match, or if the price seems too low, or if it’s being sold through an unusual channel like the back of a truck or a flea market, chances are it’s fake. And, of course, if you’ve encountered a knockoff, we’d appreciate if you would tell us all about it so we can include it here.

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False versus True Religion

In this case, there were a list of clues that identified the knockoffs from the genuine True Religion brand jeans. From the shape of the pocket flaps to the pattern of the distressing on the denim to the wrong material used for the zipper and rivets, the counterfeit gave itself away. But most obvious was the label itself.

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The label on the right came from the knockoff jeans. Notice the spacing and proportion of the letters isn’t quite right. But the most obvious clue here is the color. As you can see, the genuine True Religion brand label (above, left) is a cream color, distinctly different from the much lighter label used on the counterfeit item.

True Religion’s site includes further tips on spotting counterfeits, and a means to report them directly.

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Quality is the first clue

In this post, we present a tale of two fakes, both coming to us from China. The first fake is obvious – a string-draw burlap sack with a stamped Louis Vuitton mark.

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As illustrated here, the burlap-type bag features a logo imprint of poor quality – and which was still wet when the bag was folded, as evidenced by the ink smudges in the center image above. Everything about this bag screams “cheap”, including the stitching (above right). It’s frankly beyond us how anyone in their right mind could think slapping the Louis Vuitton name on this item could make it more desirable. In all, a tragic and laughably poor attempt, but one that reinforces the fact that counterfeiters will try to get away with anything. In this case they just weren’t trying very hard.

In our second fake of the day, the counterfeiters made an effort, but quality issues still separate the counterfeit from the genuine item.

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This is a children’s art set bearing prominent Disney brands, including the Tinker Bell character and the Disney Fairies mark. It contains the same labeling as the genuine item – including the “Ages 3+” safety warning, bullet points describing the various art supplies contained in the kit, and even the Disney copyright and a copied UPC code on the back of the package. The counterfeiters put some effort into this one, but like the example above, this too falls victim to poor quality. Where the original photo and package art is a high quality, professional print job, it appears this package has been scanned and reprinted from the original – as evidenced by extensive pixelation of the images and logos on the package (center image above): smooth lines and color gradients are blotchy and jagged. As in many cases, a poor quality package is the first warning of a counterfeit. In this instance, the clear plastic cover over the watercolor paint chips inside the kit doesn’t match the contents (above right), and was apparently from an entirely different product. Finally, an inspection of the edges of the box’s die-cut front window finds an irregular cut edge, where the genuine item would show a clean, neat cut. All together, these are clues to a fake. Being that this is a children’s play set, we’d also be very concerned about the chemical composition of the art materials themselves, with the high likelihood they would be handled and perhaps ingested in small amounts during normal play.