A seemingly endless variety of facial masks can now be found in Hong Kong, some containing ingredients like bird’s nest or the slime of a snail. Do not be surprised to see beauty products depicting a picture of a cheerful snail followed by a trail of slime on the packaging.
It has become routine for many to put on a facial mask at night in Hong Kong. Sadly, some merchants have decided to take unlawful advantage of the popularity of facial masks, albeit not necessarily containing the above ingredients or depicting a smiling snail.Spurred on by a complaint that a pharmacy was selling suspected counterfeit facial masks, Customs officers of the Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau raided the pharmacy. Customs hauled 2,450 suspected counterfeit facial masks with a total retail value of HKD12,700 and arrested a salesman and two shop owners.
Customs also raided a number of retail shops and storage centers. A total of 51,000 suspected counterfeit facial masks with an estimated value of HKD266,000 were seized and 12 people were arrested, including salespersons, shop owners, merchandisers and suppliers.
It was found that the retail shops and wholesale centers mixed the suspected counterfeit masks with genuine masks to sell and make more profit.
Fortunately, laboratory analysis revealed that these batches of seized masks had no adverse effect on the human body. However, it does not conclude that all counterfeit masks will be safe for consumer use.
In Hong Kong, suppliers and retailers have the responsibility of ensuring that the products they sell are genuine goods. Under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, it is a criminal offence to sell goods with a forged trademark. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of HKD500,000 and five years’ imprisonment.