Published in El Pais, 10 October 2018.
Throughout Mexico and Bolivia, I noticed many shops having top name brand products such as Ray Ban, Oakley and Apple all at very affordable prices. Everyone knows these products are counterfeit, and if you don’t than its your fault for thinking you can get an iPhone X for $100, and often you do not need to be an expert to tell the products are of inferior quality to the original. To many however that does not matter as they are able to show off wealth they may not have and obtain the prestige that comes with it. Now not everyone is happy with this arrangement, namely the company that makes the real goods and while there is little they can do in developing markets they do everything they can from entering North America and Europe. However, as unhappy as they are about these fake goods on the street many companies do shamefully admit there is a benefit to having these goods on the market, namely as a form of advertisement.
Bill gates himself has gone on the record as saying he would rather someone use a pirated Windows OS than use his competitors as it creates a new user who may one day buy the real product. One executive of a Canadian jacket manufacture, Canada Goose, complains about the never-ending fight to stop fakes from coming in but at the same time admits the brand is gaining recognition in countries that have never heard of them before. Thanks to counterfeiters the brand is already well known in China and has made entering the country for real much easier.
This is not to say I condone counterfeit goods as it damages the original creator. You may not feel sympathy to big companies but many designers who are employed by these companies might lose out on a lot of money and may consider it is no longer worth it to come up with new designs. Regardless of how you feel the fact is these fake products exist and will probably exist for a long time. Sure, the companies should keep up the fight and stopping them but at the same time if they learn to leverage the situation it should lessen the sting a bit and they may even benefit from it.