Taking Truth Global with Custodian Solutions
All content by Rebecca Broad
Imbibed from school age – don’t copy your partner - acting with integrity is, hopefully, something that we all do automatically. But how many of us take it further, and devise ways of tackling the rising trend of people intentionally duping others for profit?
The European Union Intellectual Property Office’s March report found that the trade of counterfeit goods is growing. It’s estimated at $1.77 trillion a year, beating drugs and human trafficking to the title of world’s largest criminal enterprise (NGO International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition Inc.).
Custodian Solutions was founded by a team with a variety of backgrounds, including intelligence and the military. Their anti-counterfeiting investigation tools have won multiple global awards; Custodian Solutions could be Exeter’s quietest yet most influential company.
I chatted to Joel Stobart, Custodian’s CTO, about the wider topic of this issue of Grow: factfulness. I began by asking what he sees as the main drivers behind people acting unfaithfully.
“Often the ideas start with perception of opportunity, combined with an inherent feeling of unfairness rebalanced. Where there is an asymmetry, like wealth or brand-reputation, this can allow people to try and build themselves a story that what they are doing [counterfeiting] is good, or right. In their mind, they tell themselves the story that they are offering something cheaper, that’s basically the same. In fashion, this can almost be true. But when it comes to untested and unsafe fake children’s car seats, fake phone chargers that cause house fires, or fake cancer medicines, people have gone much too far.”
It occurs to me that fake goods aren’t often discussed in our media. What responsibilities do we as consumers have for being aware, and buying legitimate products?
“I think awareness of counterfeit goods is really low in the UK. Fortunately, we are also blessed with relatively low levels of counterfeiting compared to other countries. I don’t think people really see past the obvious fakes they see on holiday, but counterfeits are growing in certain key areas and we should be very cautious about its rise in the UK. Consumers have a responsibility to ensure that the product is not dangerous to themselves or others. If you are buying a safety device, like a car seat, buy from a reputable main dealer. It’s not worth the risk of a dangerous fake.”
There are sociocultural aspects at play, too.
“Consider those who knowingly buy fakes: they can do so to keep up with aspirations. For example, there are interesting reports from the UAE where people buy a real handbag, but also the fake so that they can claim the status of the real one whilst reducing the risks of having a real one damaged or stolen.”
Finally, I asked Joel about running a business in Exeter – how does Custodian benefit from our beautiful city?
“Exeter is the best city in the UK for well being. It’s growing fast, and has an incredible lifestyle, with canoeing, cycling and walking on our doorsteps. It has a strong, supportive and growing entrepreneurial community, with great links to the university – particularly the innovation centre and SetSquared.”
He concludes with a statement that I’m sure we’d all agree there’s nothing fake about:
“Exeter is a lovely place to have a business.”
To find out more about Custodian Solutions, click here.