Web of Deceit: The Global Impact of Counterfeit Products

The U.S. Commerce Department estimates that piracy and counterfeiting costs U.S. businesses between $200 billion and $250 billion a year. Those ubiquitous Louis Vuitton purses sold on bedsheets by street vendors do not represent an isolated amateur act; they are directly related to fake housing components, fake vaccines and even fake airplane parts. Last year, the U.S. Air Force noted that an “unknown number” of phony airplane parts had found their way into Air Force and Navy planes. The Federal Aviation Administration estimates that 2%, or 520,000, of the 26 million airline parts installed each year are fakes-a frightening thought for anyone who flies. 

In addition, according to MarkMonitor, a San Francisco-based counterfeiting research firm, instances of “cybersquatting” (using a domain name that capitalizes on an established brand) increased steadily throughout 2008, up 18% year-over-year to more than 1.7 million instances. The number of websites devoted to selling counterfeit goods also rose to more than 87,200, up 46% from the previous year.

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