School of Law

Research Student: Jo Large

Criminality, Consumption and the Counterfeiting of Fashion Goods

The Intellectual Property Crime Strategy reflects the increasing pressure being placed upon law enforcement agencies to devote more resources to tackling counterfeiting. Much of this is based on possible related harmful effects: from damage to businesses through to links to organised crime.

Public law enforcement agencies have a responsibility to protect the public from harm. However, what is clear when separating fashion counterfeiting from other types of 'safety critical' counterfeits (e.g. medicines) is that there is not always a clear cut public interest argument.

When fashion counterfeiting is examined alone, the debates surrounding who does get harmed become much more difficult to clarify. This therefore weakens the pressure for public law enforcement agencies to be taking this type of crime more seriously.

However, I argue that many of the assumptions that underpin the knowledge about fashion counterfeiting are problematic. For example, anti-counterfeiting enforcement policies rely partly upon tackling counterfeiting by changing attitudes toward consuming counterfeit goods.

Further, this is based on the simplistic assumption that reducing consumer demand for fashion counterfeits through changing attitudes will reduce market supply. Not only does this ignore economic theory debates but also wider issues surrounding consumption, culture and fashion.

Therefore, I argue that, because consumer perceptions have a fundamental effect on crime policy priorities, a consumer-based approach that takes into account the wider issues to this topic is essential.

The aim of this project is to deconstruct fashion counterfeiting in terms of its various legal, cultural, social and economic conceptualisations. I aim to contextualise fashion counterfeiting within the broader literature about consumption, fashion and culture and place within a criminological framework.

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