Counterfeit clippings: news in brief

newspapersRalph Lauren sued; counterfeit medicine sentencing; Super Bowl fakes; counterfeit steel and a Nigerian labelling initiative.

The Cowichan tribe in British Columbia, Canada, is suing fashion designer Ralph Lauren for allegedly selling counterfeit versions of their traditional knitted sweater designs, reports CTV News Vancouver. Ralph Lauren is reportedly selling the sweaters online as 'Buffalo Full-Zip Cowichan' for $200, but the tribe maintains the garments are counterfeit. This is the latest in a series of actions taken by the tribe alleging trademark infringement, with department store Nordstrom agreeing to remove the 'Cowichan' name from a clothing line it was selling on its website last month.

A US man has been sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for conspiring to traffic counterfeit medicines - including copies of Pfizer's erectile dysfunction drug Viagra (sildenafil) and anxiolytic Xanax (alprazolam) - as well as illegally distributing steroids. 60-year-old Frank Fiore was also the owner of Havana Nights Cigar Bar and Lounge in Boca Raton in Palm Beach County, Florida. Co-defendants Anthony Carbone (31) and Gary Lee Jones (55) were sentenced last year to two years in jail for their part in the illegal activity.

US Customs and Border Protection seized nearly 700 shipments of counterfeit Super Bowl merchandise valued at $12m in the build-up to this year's event. CBP carried out the operation - called Super Fake - between January 26 and 29 at the DHL facility in Cincinnati and consisted of team apparel bearing counterfeit National Football League (NFL) trademark. "This operation demonstrates CBP's commitment to protecting our citizens from the threats posed by counterfeits," said Brenda Smith, assistant commissioner of CBP's Office of International Trade. "Our officers and trade experts remain vigilant in detecting these violations and enforcing all trade laws."

Counterfeit steel mislabelled as Japanese-made is being introduced in China and other world markets with falsified warranties, according to a report in Japan News, citing an article in the Yomiuri Shimbun. The fake material is findings its way into construction materials, automotive parts and electrical appliances, amongst other goods, it says. The activity seems to have stepped up in the last two to three years, according to Japanese manufacturers such as Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal and JFE Steel, which say the counterfeits are low-quality that could cause accidents and undermine the reputation of genuine Japanese steel.

Proposals by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) announced last November to require all medicinal products imported into the country from 2015 onwards to carry the Nigerian Industrial Standard (NIS) mark could help reduce counterfeit medicines in the market, suggests Business Monitor International. Currently only locally manufactured products carry this mark, while it is reported that 95 per cent of the counterfeit products in Nigeria are imported.

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