Stories coming out of London during the run-up to the 2012 Olympic Games are showing how expansive counterfeiting has become. The range of merchandise being counterfeited is mind-boggling — everything from counterfeit cigarette lighters to Olympic flags have been seized by British customs officials. In addition, Olympic athletes are receiving fake training gear (including footwear), that could lead to injuries prior to the events even starting.
There are both commercial and safety risks associated with counterfeit goods. Legitimate products help the LOCOG (London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) finance the Games and stay within their privately-raised £2 billion budget. Counterfeits undermine the significant financial commitments made by the Games’ official corporate sponsors. Because fake goods are exceedingly likely to be of inferior quality, they can do irreparable damage to the reputations of global brands. In addition to being substandard quality-wise, counterfeit goods are unlikely to meet the stringent safety and sustainability standards required of all official Olympic products. Due to this, fake merchandise poses serious safety risks to consumers.
What is being done to combat the distribution of counterfeit goods?
LOCOG is using a combination of technology and manpower to combat the number of counterfeits being sold in London. The Customs Department of the UK Border Agency is the first line of defense against counterfeit products and they will be expected to spot illegal shipments entering Britain from overseas ports. The Games organizers are also placing holograms that, when tilted, show the London 2012 logo on all official products. This will help merchants and consumers differentiate between authentic, properly-licensed products and fakes. Finally, London authorities have employed the services of 270 standards officers to police the areas around Olympic venues in order to make sure everybody is following the mandated regulations. These officers will have jurisdiction within 200 meters of every athletic venue.
CREATe wishes the best of luck to every athlete and nation competing in London this year. We look forward to watching the competition unfold!