Last Gaga visited Bangkok eight months ago tweeting “I just landed in Bangkok baby! Ready for 50,000 screaming Thai monsters. I wanna get lost in a lady market and buy fake Rolex”. [50,000 Thai Baht equals roughly $1682 US Dollars]. The tweet caused considerable attention to the knock-off industry operating in Bangkok. According to the article, confusing Bangkok with Hong Kong’s Ladies’ Market was not the offensive part but rather the notion that Bangkok has fake watches readily for sale and is considered a tourist attraction. Even though the knock-off industry in Thailand is well known, the tweet and recognition by an American pop-star was considered offensive. Thousands chimed in on social median and the Intellectual Property Department made a formal complaint to the U.S. Embassy. Realizing the problem is not a U.S. problem but rather a Thai problem, local police made several arrests in the following weeks.
An article by the Bangkok Post, chronicles the trials and travails of a successful knock-off reseller. The bribes to police, reliance on school learned Arabic, and attempt to have a legitimate business only to resort back to selling fakes highlights the consumer demand and potential profits when selling fakes and infringing on copyrights and intellectual property. Copyright infringement is big business in Thailand. The latest, CDs, DVDs, handbags, and Swiss watches are in high demand by tourists. According to this article, watches and jewelry are the second most copied product sitting behind handbags and wallets.
One of the many problems with fake Swiss watches isthat they come into the watch market and unsuspecting buyers will see them a genuine. With the proliferation and decreasing cost of Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) machines, 3D modeling, combined with a good Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) designer, it is becoming easier for knock-off manufactures to produce fake Swiss watches that are stunningly close in appearance to genuine Swiss manufactured watches. The demand by people who don’t know the difference between the real artifact and the fake one, or care that they are subsidizing an industry that only is run on smoke, mirrors and bribes only harms the market for people who truly want to purchase a genuine product. It is for this reason why Rolex considers any Rolex watch with any non-Rolex part such as a strap, sapphire caseback, or bezel as being counterfeit. Consumer demand for counterfeit goods combined with the computer modeling available to design products that appear genuine forces Rolex to only services watches that only possess the same parts that were on the watch when the left the Rolex Authorized Dealer.