Holidaymakers face fines for buying fake gear
Holidaymakers could be fined thousands of pounds for buying fake designer gear when they go abroad, lawyers warned today.
Authorities in countries like France and Italy are stepping up a campaign against those who peddle counterfeit goods as well as those who buy them. Fines in France can rise up to 300,000 euro (£260,000).
Copyright solicitor Nicholas Phillips is warning tourists against bringing back fake designer sunglasses, sports gear, handbags and watches.
He told the BBC: "The most likely thing to happen to British tourists if they walk thought customs with a counterfeit Louis Vuitton bag is customs officers will tap them on the shoulder and take it away from them.
"They will also potentially fine them twice the value of the original bag, not the fake. [That] may run to several thousand euros - imagine twice that."
The European Commission has raised fears about the growing involvement of organised international criminal gangs in the market for fake goods.
It said recently: "Without doubt, one of the principal methods of dispersing counterfeits is the 'ant-like' traffic of tourists returning home from holiday, bringing back souvenirs."
Susie Winter, director general of the Alliance Against Intellectual Property Theft - which represents creative industry - said: "We would urge people to think about where their money is going.
"These are not cheeky chappies making an honest living on a Sunday morning, these are hardened criminals."
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