Listings showing identical products to those sold by companies including 150-year-old retailer Kinloch Anderson are being sold on online marketplace Alibaba.com – known as China’s answer to Amazon – for less than £10.
The Scottish companies say they are “seeking advice” on the issue, while Alibab said it had taken enforcement action against the sellers.
Photographs and descriptions of the Scottish-made products taken from the Scottish retailers are being used on the Chinese site, where the sporrans are listed as being manufactured by Pakistani firms.
One product which closely resembles a Kinloch Anderson sporran – a “Red Fox fur Dress Sporran with Celtic design cantle and three matching tassels” sold by the Edinburgh store for £330 – is marketed on Alibaba by Skylark Enterprises in the Punjab, for $10 to $20 (£7-£15) using identical photographs, while the description is also exactly the same as on the Scottish site.
A photograph of another product which is apparently identical to a sporran advertised by Scottish kilt store 8 Yards as being “made in Edinburgh”, is used in a sale listing on Alibaba by Pakistani supplier Scottish Pro, based in Lahore. The listing for the “Silver fox Sporran with Bulldog Rose Cantle” is word-for-word the same as that published by 8 Yards, with only the “made in Edinburgh” line removed.
The 8 Yards’ sporran is currently for sale on the store’s website for £280.46 – however, on Alibaba, it is for sale for $100 (£77) a piece – for a minimum of 25 pieces.
Rachel Jones, founder and chief executive of Edinburgh-based brand monitoring and intellectual property firm Snapdragon, said the counterfeit industry was growing at a rate of 25 per cent a year – and generates half a trillion dollars a year.
She said: “It is, unfortunately, very common. And it is happening so fast that it is hard for companies to keep on top of it.
“Customers who buy this product could end up receiving something very like [the original version], so that they might not even know that what they have is a fake.
“When a counterfeit product is found, it is usually the tip of the iceberg.”
Jason Landon, head of retail at Kinloch Anderson, said the company would be “seeking advice” on the next steps.
He said: “It appears that the image in question is extremely similar to the link supplied to Kinloch Anderson’s website.
“I can confirm that the product on the link supplied to our website is manufactured in Scotland.”
Paul Swadzba, a spokesman for 8 Yards, said: “At 8 Yards, our policy is simple, we try to purchase only Scottish manufactured goods to help the Scottish economy, protect traditional skills and local jobs.
“Some of the images on this web site have been taken from our site, however I am positive that the finished article bought from India or China will not look as good or last anywhere near as long.”
A spokesman for Alibaba said: “Alibaba Group is the global leader in protecting intellectual property (IP) on its platforms. Since being made aware of the situation and the two listings on Alibaba.com have been removed.”