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Last week, local fashion designer Annette Sete was on flight mode. This week is no different. She’s flying here and there, calling here and there and emailing her lawyers to find out how she can stop another fake design product that’s already littering the market.
The design in question is the Lavagirl Hibiscus, a creative piece of art she designed three years ago while studying fashion in Fiji. The design was specifically drawn for the annual Miss Hibiscus event and students were tasked with coming up with a design for that event.
The design was put on fabric early last year and Sete says it’s been one of her most popular designs. So popular was the market’s response to the design, she reran another lot of orders late last year.
But it seems some of those design prowlers have snatched up the design and created counterfeits which are now selling like “hot cakes” at Sete’s expense.
Fabrics bearing the design have so far been found in Lae and Wewak and this week Sete says she’s expecting them to arrive right on her doorstep, in Kokopo.
It is unclear at this stage as to who is behind the theft of the design but according to Sete, the manufacturer is based in China. She believes someone who follows her on social media might be the mastermind behind the initial reproduction.
Many of the “wholesales” of the fake design are Chinese retailers selling at wholesale prices to local SME’s who then sell at the local stall markets. Some have already contacted Sete informing her of where they’ve seen or purchased these counterfeits.
Sete posted the counterfeit issue on the Hibiscus design on social media and the response was unsurprisingly overwhelming. Many of her friends and followers have raised their disgust on this continuous issue and that nothing much has been done to help SMEs being robbed off their intellectual properties.
But voicing disgust is a start. Customers need to go further in this fight against copyright by simply not purchasing items they suspect to have infringed someone else’s copyright. At the very least, where there is a concern on the item, further enquiries should be conducted to ensure that what they are buying are genuine products. That’s how you as a customer can help a wantok.
Sete is intent on taking this matter all the way and she has shown before that she’ll stand up to protect her rights. But her fight is really a community one – one that customers can play their part by purchasing only genuine products. To continue to buying fakes only helps those who make fake products to produce more and more.
Feature Photo: Annete Sete Facebook Page