There are illegal copies of almost all products available, from lighters to high tech products, and even paper money. The result can be seen in every city center of almost all Brazilian cities. In Florianópolis, those passing the area of central hawkers centers, everyday, the free commerce of counterfeit products.
According to Mendes da Silva, manager of the Grupo de Trabalho Antipirataria da Associação Brasileira de Empresas de Software (Abes), Brazil is classified as a country receptor of counterfeit products, although there is illegal production here. The main producer of counterfeit products is China, where Nike alone helped close 176 illegal factories in 2009.
So, how counterfeit products get to the consumer? The most usual way is via naval, which is granted with low rates of supervision. “Only 5% of containers that come to the country are open for verification”, says Newton Vieira Junior, consultant of Brand Protection Group.
Jair Antônio Schmitt, president of Conselho Estadual de Combate à Pirataria (Cicop) confirmed that today most of the counterfeit products in Santa Catarina comes via ships. And he explains what smugglers do to cheat inspection. “A lot of times, they are caught during sampling. Containers which should be full of pens are caught full of counterfeit sunglasses, for example”, says Schmitt.
Another known route is by land, where counterfeit products pass via Paraguay, famous depository of counterfeit products, and are brought to several cities by informal traders. Even considering there is border surveillance, most of smugglers are capable of escaping it. Schmitt also says that this patch in decreasing since Brazil changed the laws against piracy. In 2006, with the creation of Conselho Nacional do Combate à Pirataria, Brazil left the blacklist of Organização Mundial do Comércio (OMC) and inspection became more effective. “Now, police officers can even retain vehicles that acts on the transport of products without
invoices”, says Schmitt. With that, informal traders search for alternatives. They make use of the Itaipu Lake instead of the Friendship Bridge, traditional connection between Brazil and Paraguai. But the work is hard. “They are always coming up with some ways to escape control”, concludes the auditor.
In order for you to have an idea of the counterfeit market´s reach, it´s responsible for 58% of sales of the software sector. At the moment a counterfeit media is seized, new ones are already circulating. “We are always chasing counterfeiters, since they act very quickly”, says Mendes Silva, da Abes.
Even though piracy percentages are decreasing in the last few years, losses keep growing due to the markets growth. “Each percentage of counterfeit products we can decrease is a victory”, reports Silva.
He also says that a lot of companies are being doubly harmed. “Several companies have to take employees from the production area to act on the piracy combat area, which results in less productions and results”.
When purchasing a counterfeit product, the consumer believes to be in advantage since they are paying less. However, the disadvantages of this choice are many, starting with the product´s quality, usually low and with little time for use.
Another problem is not collecting taxes, which can allow the money gained from piracy for illegal activities, such as money laundering and drug trafficking. The final accounting, buying a unofficial DVD at the street or at the hawkers center ends up being terrible business. And, in accordance with a study from Associação Brasileira de Combate à Falsificação (ABCF), almost half of Brazilians made that mistake in 2009.
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