In recent years we’ve seen a lot of counterfeit audio gear, mostly microphones and headphones and most of it coming out of China. Usually when the price is too good to be true, it’s either a close-out of a model that will no longer be manufactured, or it’s a counterfeit. One of the more egregious examples in recent years is with one of the best headphones on the market, the Audio Technica ATM-50, but there are other companies that are affected as well.
Although not a favorite of audio pros, Beats by Dre headphones are one of the best sellers (much to the chagrin of the older pro headphone manufacturers), but the company has a real problem with counterfeit manufacturing. Last month it filed it’s 5th court injunction of the year against either a rip-off manufacturer, an online seller or a retailer. What’s worse, its phony headphone sales have run rampant throughout Asia, where it’s much more difficult to control.
Each industry has its counterfeit goods rated on an A to C scale, with an A rating meaning that the product looks legitimate and is sold for roughly the same price as the authentic product. A C rating means that the product bears the brand’s logo, but doesn’t resemble the original other than that. Beats is fighting counterfeit goods that range from A to C, with the C level products selling for as little as $10 to $15.
One of the more interesting pieces of this story is the fact that much of the sales come from fake online sales sites like ilovebeatsbydre.com, which shows product pictures lifted from the real Beats website, but delivering something much different. Beats have been vigorous in routing those out, however, and has had over 3,000 similar domain names transferred to its ownership since 2013.
It will be interesting to see how Apple, the new owner of Beats, deals with this issue. Obviously, its pockets are a lot deeper, and the company has been fairly successful in combating counterfeits in the past, but this is an new game entirely.
So remember, the next time you see a deal on a piece of new gear that seems too good to be true. Just think about the Beats counterfeits before you shell out your money.