Why is everything fake in China

Detected: The product counterfeiters in China

Reporters from Panorama, NDR Info and "Zeit" have succeeded in tracing the path of a counterfeit backpack from the outdoor brand Fjällräven back to China. They came across factories in which counterfeiting is taking place on a massive scale. Laboratory examinations of the fake backpack from China also showed that it was contaminated with carcinogenic heavy metals and therefore hazardous to health.

When asked about the research, the head of Fjällräven, Martin Nordin, called for tougher steps against counterfeiters and the theft of intellectual property. He is angry because politicians are consciously "sacrificing" part of the industry through their inaction. His company does not have any backpacks produced in China.

Fake shops with a professional network in the background

The counterfeit backpack of the "Kanken" model, one of the best-selling backpacks in the world, was offered in a fake shop on the Internet and advertised on social media. Experts observe an extreme growth of such deceptively real looking fake shops, which are backed by professional networks of the counterfeiting industry. "In the end, these abusers operate like a normal company. They set up on social media platforms, they use websites and marketplace activities on various marketplaces to position themselves. We are clearly talking about organized crime here," said Stefan Moritz , Germany boss of the online brand protection company Markmonitor.

Amazon cannot stop piracy

Counterfeit products also appear again and again on platforms such as Amazon, which maintain so-called marketplaces. There, external sellers can offer products to a huge group of customers - a service that is also used by digitally savvy counterfeiters. Amazon itself recently admitted in a report to the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it would probably not be able to prevent the sale of counterfeit products. When asked, Amazon said: "Amazon strictly prohibits the sale of counterfeit products, and we ensure that our guidelines are adhered to with considerable effort and financial resources."

The digitization of the counterfeiting industry is also making the work of customs more difficult, which is faced with a flood of illegal small shipments. At the International Post Distribution Center (IPZ) at Frankfurt Airport, for example, 1.4 million items from outside the EU now arrive by airmail every day. The fake Fjällräven backpack also passed through the IPZ and was intercepted there. The popular backpack model is often used there. On the day that reporters from NDR and "Zeit" visited the IPZ, customs officers alone intercepted eleven counterfeit Fjällräven backpacks. The local customs officials now feel downright "overrun" by online orders with illegal content. This is also reflected in the figures: In the past year, customs confiscated a total of over five million counterfeit products, around 50 percent more than the year before.