Leeds business and law firm shine light on counterfeits available on Instagram

Leeds business and law firm shine light on counterfeits available on Instagram

Designers and brands must pay attention to a rising trend of Instagram accounts illegally replicating their work and products, according to Leeds-based printing company Awesome Merchandise and Blacks Solicitors.

Awesome Merchandise analysed Google Search data and found that internet users were hunting down counterfeit goods and fake designs in greater numbers during lockdown.

On Instagram, the market for infringing products has exploded, with around 4 million Instagram posts or stories relating to fashion brands promoting counterfeit products in 2019, and as many as 95 million ‘bots’ posting as real accounts and promoting fake goods.

Luke Hodson, founder of Awesome Merchandise, commented: “Counterfeit products are nothing new, but it’s not surprising the community is growing particularly on Instagram due to the easy access of printing and free versions of design tools such as Photoshop.”

Social Recluse, a design shop based in Glasgow which produces work inspired by music, fashion and football, spotted a counterfeit account selling replicas in Malaysia earlier this month.

REAL: Don’t Look Back in Anger and Some Might Say Oasis prints by Social Recluse

Leeds business and firm shine light on counterfeits available on Instagram 3

FAKE: Counterfeit products sold through Instagram stores

Leeds business and firm shine light on counterfeits available on Instagram 4

Robert Chambers, designer at Social Recluse, commented: “Whilst we are only a small studio and shop in Glasgow, we do have a good reach with what we do worldwide. The downside to that is that people copy our products and ideas. This happens largely in the UK and further afield, as far as Malaysia. We have a very loyal following on Instagram, and an online community that looks out for each other.”

“I am now making sure the fake prints and the people behind them are exposed, by sharing them on our social accounts and putting them in front of our followers, to raise awareness of the problem.”

Hodson continued: “Supporters of these counterfeit products forget that for the designers and artists behind the piece of artwork, be it in a print or on a piece of clothing or merchandise, a huge amount of time has been devoted to creating them. From the initial concept to developing and refining the idea, it’s a skillset that is very special and unique, and shouldn’t be taken for granted.” 

When it comes to clothing and accessories, face masks are the latest item to be utilised, with counterfeit designs promoted by influencers with huge followings.

Although it is no longer available on Amazon, a search for  ‘designer masks’ until recently brought up a results page featuring a faux-Burberry mask that replicated the brand’s signature tartan print.

Influencers such as the ex- Love Island contestant Tyne Lexy Clarson, who has more than 400,000 followers on Instagram, are promoting fake designer fashion labels and directing fans to the counterfeit pages to buy.

Leeds business and firm shine light on counterfeits available on Instagram 2

Phil Parkinson, head of commercial law at Leeds-based Blacks Solicitors, said: “Not only has money been spent on creating the concept and brand, but will also have been spent on legally protecting the brand as well. Counterfeiters will be fully aware that they are using someone else’s property (in this case intellectual property) and profiting from it.”

“Whether a brand has registered a logo or name or not (and in most cases they will have done so), that brand, designer or content creator has the right to use their own property and when another party uses it, they are very likely to be the subject of legal action. This could be a claim for damages or a notice to cease production or more likely a mixture of the two.”

Categories: Legal, News

About Author

Mark Dugdale

Mark is the Editor of Yorkshire Legal. Mark welcomes articles, letters or feedback from readers and can be reached by emailing mark.dugdale@barkerbrooks.co.uk