Getting into costume can be fun for any occasion, but there’s one universal time of year when you’re more likely to see anyone and everyone dressing up.
As 2021 seems more hopeful than the last year, I’m sure many will be digging out that vampire or zombie costume from the back of the wardrobe for a Halloween party. Parents across the country are heading to the shops to stock up on the latest costumes for their children for a fun night of trick or treating.
One thing you may not have considered, is making sure your costume is a legitimately sourced, quality tested item.
IP infringement online can be carried out by scammers pretending to be legitimate online retailers, often using fake websites. At the IPO we want to keep everyone safe at Halloween when buying their paranormal products. That means ensuring you buy real this October and avoid the counterfeits.
A license to sell
Counterfeit sellers target seasonal events to list their products in markets, on online marketplaces and promote their products on social media. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
These products often breach the intellectual property rights of the brand owner, but there can be much worse consequences. If goods have not been properly tested, they could be flammable and costume make-up could be dangerous.
To ensure the products you buy are properly tested, follow the guidance from the Office for Product Safety and Standards on buying safe.
As the convenience of online shopping rises, unfortunately counterfeits do too. Sellers are getting better at marketing cheap deals for popular costumes.
This doesn’t mean you need to buy from Disney for a princess or Pirates of the Caribbean costume though. Other retailers can sell official costumes created by big brands by using an intellectual property licensing agreement. This means the retailer has the license to use the IP of other brands. You can sometimes check details of their licensing on the supplier’s website.
We spoke to worldwide fancy dress brand Smiffy’s about how they enforce their intellectual property rights in this case study.
Tell-tale signs of a counterfeit
It can be hard to tell counterfeits, especially when you shop online and don’t have the chance to look at the product properly. But taking precautions is worth it. Have a look out for some of these red flags when shopping for yours or your children’s costumes:
- Price: prices of costumes on online marketplaces can be as low as £3. Don’t assume that just because you are buying from a well-known auction site or marketplace that you are immune to fakes. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Seller address and location: the listing might claim to be in the UK, but it could actually be shipped from overseas which may mean it’s not a legitimate business. Check the seller’s business address before buying.
- Reviews: check out online reviews to see what customers have to say.
- Returns policy: genuine sites are more likely to have a sale and returns policy, so it’s worth checking to see if there is one in place.
- Spelling mistakes: spelling and grammar mistakes or unofficial names can indicate that this isn’t an officially licensed product.
Watch our quick animation video on IP crime and infringement:
Keeping the counterfeits at bay
If you come across a counterfeit seller, you can report them to the UK Trading Standards, find out more via the Citizens Advice website.
Check out our official guidance on IP crime and enforcement for consumers to make sure you're buying safely this season.
Buy real, keep safe and have a fang-tastic time this Halloween.