A “knock-off” is a product bearing a trademarked name, logo, brand or other identity that is not manufactured or sold by the company that owns the trademark.
If you see a guy near Istanbul‘s Galata Bridge with a suitcase full of shirts bearing labels and logos such as Lacoste or Puma, or a pushcart with athletic shoes bearing Adidas and Nike logos, chances are that these are not goods made by those manufacturers. They’re knock-offs.
Making knock-offs is big business in developing countries throughout the world. The majority of the “Marlboro” cigarettes sold in Turkey a few years ago were actually knock-off cigs made in Bulgaria. Other knock-offs abound, particularly in the markets for apparel, perfume, expensive watches and other high-margin items.
Making and selling knock-offs is illegal, an infringement of trademark laws in most countries, but in many countries the law is not strictly enforced.
A lot of knock-off products are for sale in Turkey. Should you buy them?
They may be of bad quality, or decent quality, and even though the law may not be strictly enforced in Turkey, it may be enforced in your own country.
What does this mean to you? Probably nothing, in most cases, if you buy a garment or two, wear it while in Turkey, and bring it home rumpled in your suitcase.
But if you were to have, say, 10 “Lacoste” shirts all nicely packaged for resale or gifts in your suitcase, and you were to be stopped by customs in your own country, the shirts might be confiscated and you might be subject to a fine or other penalty, because it is also illegal to import knock-off goods to most countries (especially France, home of many of the world’s premier brands).
The companies who own the trademarks often spearhead campaigns to get authorities to enforce the laws. If you are caught in such a campaign, it may be unpleasant, and may go on some sort of computer record, which may result in your being searchedevery time you return home from a trip abroad.
So if you buy knock-off goods, at least be discreet about it, and think twice about crossing a border with them in quantity.