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Nike, Louis Vuitton Among the Brands Most Targeted by Counterfeiters

A (real) Louis Vuitton bag. Photo: Kirsten Sinclair/Getty Images
A (real) Louis Vuitton bag. Photo: Kirsten Sinclair/Getty Images

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On Monday, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development published a report on the state of the counterfeit goods business and its impact on the global economy between 2011 and 2013. The short version: fakes are pretty damn big.

The study, which uses information on customs seizures as its primary data set, estimates that counterfeit and pirated goods accounted for up to 2.5% of world trade in 2013 — a total of $461 billion. (That's roughly the GDP of Austria. Fun fact.) It might be bigger than that, though. In 2013, the World Trademark Review calculated that fakes represented 5 to 7% of global trade, or $500 to $600 billion. (Twice the annual profits from the sale of illegal drugs. Fun fact.)

Although everything from machinery and pharmaceuticals to children's toys and food products are subject to counterfeiting, the most intensely traded goods tend to fall in the fashion realm. Rolex, Nike, Ray Ban, and Louis Vuitton are some of the most frequently counterfeited brands on the market, and of those, Nike got knocked off the most.

In fact, seizures of fake footwear outstripped seizures of any other product category between 2011 and 2013. Clothing, watches, leather goods, and electrical machinery followed close behind.