While ‘purse parties’–parties in which guests exchange actual wholesale designer goods–are a great way to host a fundraiser, parties held at the home to distribute merchandise of questionable trademark origin is considered counterfeit trafficking. Frequently, the merchandise distributed at ‘purse parties’–handbags and accessories which are purchased ‘in bulk’ at a reduced price–are acquired from merchants with origins from China and East Asia where trademark, copyright, and intellectual property right infringement is vague and not as defined as in the United States, and where most of the world’s manufacturing of retail goods occurs.
China and similar manufacturing areas such as Hong Kong and the Republic of Korea are also where most counterfeit goods including electronic products, DVDs, shoes, and household products such as laundry detergent and shampoo are produced. Paint used on counterfeited products, and the chemicals used in counterfeited toiletry items contain lead and similarly toxic chemicals. Counterfeit athletic shoes or designer-influenced women’s stilettos are stitched using flimsy thread and simulated leather material that can cause pain and swelling to the feet, and can deteriorate completely after wearing them a few times.
While the legal employment age in China is 16, children between the ages of 13 and 15 who are from single-parent families in China and often endure severe economic conditions are forced to indenture their children into the cities’ sweatshops as a means of survival. The under-reporting of the child’s age is not uncommon. Orphans or children separated from their parents are the assemblers in servitude for pennies, night and day, amid deplorable surroundings while producing the counterfeit designer merchandise. Child labor laws in these areas are either non-existent, unspecified, or not enforced due to corrupted business practices.
Auction website eBay has current guidelines described in the eBay program named VeRO (Verified Rights Owner). Owners of the trademarks of the authentic wholesale designer handbags and other designer merchandise offered at auction are able to report alleged infringement of their trademark rights of the goods that they allege are not their actual merchandise. For example, LVMH (a merger of fashion house Louis Vuitton, and the champagne producer Moet & Chandon and cognac manufacturer Hennessy) which is the company that owns the designer companies Louis Vuitton, Dior, Givenchy, Fendi, and other designer manufacturers, employs investigators to troll online auction sites and to subsequently alert eBay when a counterfeit item is suspect as ‘at auction’. If eBay users find an item that they suspect might be counterfeit, owners of the trademarks of the actual designer goods permit the eBay user to report the auction to eBay.
However, while eBay has resumed online auctions with increased vigilance, gas stations and convenience stores are not the place to purchase a wholesale designer handbag. Look at the price. If the price appears to you to be unusually inexpensive, it could possibly be counterfeit, and not a worthwhile purchase.
The approximate $500 billion U. S. dollars generated from proceeds of the sale of counterfeit merchandise–unbeknownst to the average consumer–has been determined to finance events such as the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City. A U. S. federal report from the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition indicated that the financing of the bombing was facilitated by the sales of counterfeit T-shirts.