Beware, pirates ahoy!

3 January 2007

Let's be honest. We have all probably bought, given or received a pirate item of clothing, bag, watch, CD, perfume or aftershave sometime in our lives. It may have been knowingly or, increasingly the case these days, unknowingly.

Although seemingly fun to think you have a special brand item at a cheaper price, actually it is not only damaging to the brand in terms of revenue, but may also mean brand erosion as the reliability or quality of the product turns out not to be such a good buy after all!

Even worse, the pirate may not only damage your health; it could be lethal. This may be the case with pirate drugs or alcohol, for example, where there are real health and safety issues associated with counterfeiting. At last year's PISEC conference in Barcelona, I was astonished to learn that the FDA has quadrupled its counterfeit pharmaceutical investigations since 2000. And the World Health Organisation has stated that between six and 10 per cent of all medicines worldwide is counterfeit.

In 1985, world revenue of counterfeit goods was estimated at $5B. In 2003 this had risen to $450B. So just what can be done to stop their proliferation, especially since the enlargement of the EU has allowed more products to come across these borders, for example into Poland from the Far East?

Increasingly, the converter is being asked to incorporate all types of protection into materials - from holograms to extremely complex codes and print. But where does the converter look for the ideas to help him? Our feature on brand protection on page 33 looks at some recent award winning ideas.

And talking of information sources, the new Converting Today Buyers Guide on line is a good place to start if you are looking for machinery, materials or services. You will find it on our website, where you can also read up to the minute daily news coverage from around the world, and sign up for the digital version of the magazine. Be sure to receive your essential copy of Converting Today on your screen every month as soon as the issue is published.

Happy New Year

Pauline Covell


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