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Counterfeits in Barcelona – Practise what you preach

Last week, the 139th INTA Annual Meeting (International Trademark Association) took place in Barcelona. More than 10.000 Intellectual Property experts (attorneys, inhouse-lawyers, patent attorneys) from all over the world gathered there. One of the hot topics was, again, the battle against fake products (see INTA Daily News May 20, 2017) and counterfeiting („By 2022, the cost of crime due to counterfeiting will be US $125 billion„). And, again, one of the key questions was: What strategies can trademark owners use to ensure they are not copied or infringed? (WIPR, May 21, 2017). And can awareness campaigns and prosecuting counterfeiters stop consumers being misled by counterfeits? (WIPR, May 24, 2017).

At the same time, while experts were talking about the threat of counterfeited goods and what brand owners can do against it, counterfeits were being sold at a large scale inter alia at the Plaça de Catalunya, in the center of Barcelona. This happened continuously both during day and night, as the following images illustrate (May 20, 2017 and May 21, 2017).

Barcelona 1

Barcelona 2

For example, fake Nike products and a lot of bags, such as Michael Kors handbags, had been “accurately” presented and offered to the public (pictures of May 22, 2017):

 Barcelona 3 Barcelona 4








Fake goods were also being sold on Barceloneta Beach and all over Paseo de Gracia / Passeig de Gràcia. It seems that the police, even though sometimes just standing nearby, inclined to turn a blind eye to the offering of counterfeits in Barcelona. It was interesting to see how the sellers took advantage of a neat trick up their (short) sleeves: a „ripcord“ to draw in their spread before running, as Christopher Weber, one of our colleagues from Düsseldorf (Kather Augenstein) noted on Twitter. World Trademark Review had a chat with one of the traders and was assured by him that the products were “the best quality”, “genuine” and “real” (WTR, May 21, 2017, Fakes on the beach):

„(although one private practice attorney told us later on that they spoke to a trader who admitted their goods were fake). Items for sale included Prada and Louis Vuitton purse bags (priced at €20) and various high fashion bags (€30), with branded sunglasses and watches also available.“

The trading of fakes continued at Barceloneta Beach during the INTA grand finale and it seems indeed curious how this could happen during the world largest trademark conference in Barcelona.  By the way, the European Union Intellectual Property Office, seated in Spain, is publishing a lot about pirated goods and the economic impact.

Of course, it is important to talk about strategies against counterfeits. But one should take action indeed, in particular if trade mark infringements are so obvious and bold as shown above. This has something to do with credibility, determination and consistency to fight counterfeiting. Go for it! See you in Seattle 2018.