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Fake brands tackled by new marketplace law

Although international clothing giants are increasingly opening their businesses in Slovakia, the local market is still overwhelmed by a huge number of fake brands.
The new Act on Market Stands was supposed to wipe these pirated brands out of sight through restricting the number of goods that are allowed to be sold, but sellers are not willing to give up easily.
Bratislava's biggest outdoor market, on Miletičova ulica, used to harbor 161 stands. Since July 1, this number has dwindled to 106. "Sales of all consumer goods have been temporarily stopped at the stands for now," said Viera Obrcianová of the local administrative office in Bratislava's Ružinov district. "The new law gives permission only to sellers with permanent stands. Because of that, the Miletičova market area will be able to accommodate only one-third of all previous sellers."

Although international clothing giants are increasingly opening their businesses in Slovakia, the local market is still overwhelmed by a huge number of fake brands.

The new Act on Market Stands was supposed to wipe these pirated brands out of sight through restricting the number of goods that are allowed to be sold, but sellers are not willing to give up easily.

Bratislava's biggest outdoor market, on Miletičova ulica, used to harbor 161 stands. Since July 1, this number has dwindled to 106. "Sales of all consumer goods have been temporarily stopped at the stands for now," said Viera Obrcianová of the local administrative office in Bratislava's Ružinov district. "The new law gives permission only to sellers with permanent stands. Because of that, the Miletičova market area will be able to accommodate only one-third of all previous sellers."

However, Obrcianová doubted that sellers of pirated brands will move out. "The new law does not solve the problem of copyright protection," she said.

Over the past several years, shoes like "Reobek" or "Adibas", jeans like "Leviss", or even sweatshirts saying "San Francisco 59ers Basketball Team," have flooded Slovak kiosks.

"We as the official Nike distributor cannot do anything about it," said Pavol Lomen, General Manager of Šport Progress. "There have been some attempts to put an end to this," he added, referring to the recent establishment of a Nike legal team, which in cooperation with the police is trying to bust the pirated goods' importers. "The only interest [we share] with our competitors is to limit and finally eliminate black market selling."

But Peter Kapusta, Marketing Director of RBK Šport SR, the official Reebok distributor in Slovakia, said that his firm was not bothered with the black market.

"Miletičova market is not a competitor to us," he said. "People who buy at the Miletičova market are not our clients. Our brand guarantees quality and service to our customer. We can live with the black market sellers as long as they do not sell the actual Reebok brand. If [they do], we inform customs authorities."

Regardless, the new regulation seems to have driven a thorn into the sides of black market operators. On July 1, they leapt into protests, featuring slogans like "Do not take our jobs. People can't afford expensive stuff."

They may get their way in the end. "We have planned to reconstruct market places so that we can rent them out again," said František Rapant, Director for the Center of Publicly Profitable Services, which administers market places. "So, consumer goods retailing will continue in a short while."

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