As promised, I return from a brief sojourn to Thailand to report on the state of play with regard to intellectual property theft - more simply described in layman's terms as the counterfeit watch business. I am pleased to report that this trade is thriving in Thailand, a veritable nightmare to the brand police at LVMH and other notable designer goods companies.
It's clear that all attempts to stamp out patent and intellectual property infringements have virtually been abandoned in Thailand and, most likely, most other developing countries in which this is happening. The only token response that I witnessed was a sign at the check-in desk at Phuket Airport saying that France and Italy could impose severe penalties on people found carrying fake designer goods into their countries. It was notable at the time I joined the queue that none of the international departures from Phuket were heading to either of those destinations!
The most interesting aspect of all this is that, at point of sale, shop proprietors take great pride in informing you that you're checking out fake gear. In fact, there is a degree of incredulity that you would consider buying the real thing, when you can get the fake for a fraction of the price.
But if I can offer any encouragement to the designer brands out there, my close inspection of many goods (none of which I bought!) indicated that the quality of fit and finish is nowhere near that of the real thing. I won't go into why I was looking at handbags - suffice to say it is simply inevitable if you're travelling with your household's female purchasing officer - but a number were already losing paint around the piping and glued parts had come adrift.
Then again, who cares, when you can buy ten and use each once before discarding it? In fact, these are arguably the perfect female accessory. You need never be seen carrying the same bag twice! And hey - if you're travelling to Italy or France and things get a bit dodgy in customs, you only lose about twenty bucks when you hastily discard the 'Louis Vuitton' purse into the nearest trash can.
Well, I'm just about out of time for writing this article - at least I think I am. The $20 Rolex has just died. I hope the Cartier's still working at home! It's a fair bet that, by the end of next week, I should be back to wearing the genuine Ebel purchased in Australia!