I just read this take on Wired by Bruce Sterling on the black, counterfeit economy in Serbia. As a parting shot, he says:
These organizations are right to worry. Black globalism extends well beyond easy, offhand intellectual property thefts like videotaping first-run films and burning them onto DVD. It commandeers the manufacturing, distribution, and business infrastructure in a parasitic rejection of the global order that is the engine of our collective future. The folks who made my shoes have everything it takes to make excellent footwear. Yet they choose to make counterfeits. It's a brave, new, destructive world of manufacturing and marketing: Just fake it.
I think Mr. Sterling could not be more wrong about the impact this will have on IPR owners and local economies. For, this is great news indeed! Having lived through one of the defining moments of India in 1990, I can say without a doubt that this bodes well for companies and globalization. For one thing, the rising supply of fake brands means that people have stopped worrying about their survival and started to grow materialistic aspirations. Back in late 80s and early 90s, India was awash with fake Nikes, Levis etc. But today, India is one of the more vibrant economies where all the western IPR owners are making huge gains. As I posted elsewhere, economies who do not have stable and strong supply chains settle for poor imitations; they will not stop consuming. At the same time, they are not stupid enough to believe that these are the genuine articles. However, as time passes, people become more savvy about quality (as their need to wear a label is sated) as their income grows and demand better quality from manufacturers. The question is how savvy are Nikes of the world to keep tabs on this and enter the country when the timing is right?
These counterfeiters are doing a service for Nikes by offering such poor quality knockoffs. They are building brand awareness while at the same time increasing discontent with fakes. Nike should be more worried about a local company offering fake labels with higher quality!!