Original China Copy




by Joakim Larsen

February 2016



The international market is overflowing with copy products. In Ethiopia it is especially cheap copies of clothes and shoes. And the copies are produced primarily in China.



Original Hugo Boss China Copy



Copies of Hugo Boss, Versace, Gucci, Tommy Hilfiger, Clarks, Adidas, and Nike are among the common sold in shops throughout Ethiopia. Some shop owners know and sell the copies as copies, others know them as copies but try to sell them as originals. Others again are convinced they are originals and insist to sell them as such.


Lately the electronics market is also being targeted with what the Ethiopians call “high-copies”. For the inexperienced consumer high-copies may be difficult to spot and they may even work somewhat reasonably for some time. But the lifetime of a copy may be short - just as the joy of owning it…


Copy production is indeed a lucrative market. High-copies of e.g. Samsung and Apple are mass produced and sold well under the market price, tempting the unwary customer into what seems to be a good deal.



This Samsung Neo (white smartphone left) is a low-copy.

It is sold as such for 2.300 ETB. The original costs 8.500 ETB.


Some shops sell the so-called "high copies" of the S6. But if you know what to look for they are easy to spot:


Here, the Android version was wrong. And the box was poorly made.


Furthermore the box says the phone was Silver Platinum colour. Only Samsung does not make the S6 in that colour.


Of course the shop owner claimed not to know although I reserve my right to doubt that...


It appears Chinese authorities are reluctant to regulate on this issue, which allows scam businesses to prey on unaware customers. Consequently China will continue to be known for their unwillingness to stop what is clearly undermining international rules on immaterial rights. This affects especially consumers in non-WTO member countries, where international copy right laws are not implemented.


Ethiopia is such a country. It is undergoing dramatic social and economic change these years, and consequently the Ethiopian government seems to be prioritizing other more pressing issues at this time. And arguably rightfully so.


So for Ethiopia the problem may first of all be attributed to a lack of product standards, that serve to regulate the market and protect the consumer. Secondly a lack of efficient control systems in the customs authorities allow quantities of un-certified and illegal copy goods to enter into the country. The down-side is that the market to a high degree is left to the devices of greedy importers, distributors and retailers who prey on the unaware customers.


And in Ethiopia there is a market for the copies. For with a rapid increasing taste for luxury goods, but still a relatively low purchasing power among the large majority of the population, price is very much a decisive factor. Furthermore all import and international trade in Ethiopia is restricted to companies authorized with an import license, leaving normal consumers with little alternative.



Samsung Galaxy S6, the original vs. copy


There are marked differences between the original Samsung Galaxy S6 and the widespread Chinese "high copy". If you know what to look for it is obvious which is which.


Click here to get an overview.




The Apple logo is used everywhere, primarily and as decoration on cars and as logos on low quality Chinese goods (primarily watches and bags). Along with Pepsi and Coca Cola it is one of the most frequently seen logos here. But it is not necessarily associated with Apple Inc.


This low price and low quality "China Apple Watch" came out years ahead of Apple's own. And it raises the question: which is the original...


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