Korean mobile phone manufacturers are increasingly frustrated by cheap counterfeit goods emanating from China, but are short of ideas on how to combat the threat, according to Far East media reports this week.
The Korean Electronics Association, which represents mobile phone makers including Samsung and LG, has announced a plan to educate the Chinese public about fakes, but some members of the organisation expressed concern that such publicity might actually damage their brand image.
The Chinese authorities are reluctant to assist, according to the Association, and Hong Kong-based intellectual property rights consultancy Marksman Consultants claimed that counterfeiters are often tipped off prior to police raids.
Taiwan and Korea, once notorious for producing look-alike products, are now increasingly falling victim to counterfeiters.
Earlier this year, Marksman's investigation of consumer electronics stores in major Chinese cities showed that almost seventy per cent of them were openly selling fake LG and Samsung products.
Chinese counterfeits are produced so rapidly, sometimes in less than a month, that they are actually beating the official products to market, according to Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.
A case in point is Samsung's D600, copies of which are already being sold in China ahead of official release. Samsung has predicted that the new phone will be as successful as its predecessor, the D500, which it says has sold over seven million worldwide.
A statement on the website of Taiwanese DVD-R manufacturer Princo threatens legal action against anyone manufacturing or selling counterfeit versions of its products, and states "we don't have any factory in China. If the goods you bought came from China, it's 100 per cent fake."
Last year, the World Customs Organization estimated the trade in counterfeit products to be worth €500bn annually and "equivalent to more than seven per cent of global trade".
According to US government data, over 60 per cent of counterfeit products seized annually by US customs officials originate in China. Seizures from nations like Taiwan have fallen significantly during recent years.
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