Shoe Company Protects Business from Counterfeiters

July 6, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. counterfeit (n.)
[koun-ter-fit] – a copy of something original that is used to cheat  buyers
Example: The bag she bought was a counterfeit because its leather was different from the original designer bag’s leather.

2. craze (n.) [kreyz] – something popular at some point in time
Example: Cute mobile phone straps suddenly became a craze among young girls.

3. durable (adj.) [door-uh-buhl, dyoor-] –not easily damaged
Example: They bought durable car tires that can be used for many years.

4. sloppy (adj.) [slop-ee] – lacking neatness, attention or order; messy
Example: The customer was angry because of the restaurant’s sloppy service.

5. scout (v.) [skout] – to look around a place carefully in order to get information
Example: Police will scout for illegal drug sellers in the market.

Read the text below.
Makers of the popular running shoes called Five Fingers have found a solution to the growing number of counterfeits of its products.

Five Fingers was introduced by in 2007 by a Tony Post, a former marathon runner through Vibram USA.  The shoes immediately became a huge craze, especially after many runners started barefoot running. The company’s earnings rose from $400,000 in 2007 to $90 million last year.  And because of its popularity, the company could not keep up with high demand.

As Vibram tried to make more shoes, counterfeiters saw a chance to earn profit from Vibram’s unique idea. Starting from the summer of 2010, the company began receiving thousands of complaints that the shoes were not durable.

Vibram learned counterfeits were being sold from different websites, which even contained images from Vibram and the company’s address.

The counterfeits really looked like the originals, but a closer look revealed the counterfeits were made from different materials, had sloppy stitches, and had colors that were not exactly the same as those of real Five Fingers.

Initially, Post hired private investigators to scout factories. But he realized closing one counterfeit-making factory would only lead to the opening of another.

He decided that the best step was to inform customers about the counterfeits through Vibram’s own websites and customer blogs though it was a risky decision because the brand’s name could be damaged.

However, as more people became aware of counterfeits, the number of complaints decreased within a year.

Post said that in the end, what can really protect a business is not its copyright but its relationship with the customers.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Are counterfeits bad for business? Please explain your answer.
·         How does your country’s government prevent counterfeits from being sold?

Discussion B

·         How do you think customers can assure that they are buying real products and not counterfeits?
·         What do you think people should do if they accidentally buy a counterfeit product?


July 6, 2012