China Now Counterfeiting Fine Wines
Infamous for its refusal to enforce patent laws, China's ever-resourceful knock-off artists have uncorked a lucrative new business: bottling phony high-end wines in old French bottles.
What's the Latest Development?
China's upwardly mobile society is developing a taste for imported luxuries, including fine wine, leaving its fiery grain alcohols behind. But Chinese vineyards are exploiting customers because their pallets remain quite undefined. "Bootleggers are dousing the market with fakes, refilling empty bottles from famous chateaux with inferior vintages." The problem is so bad that Christie's ends its tasting events in Hong Kong and China by smashing empty bottles with a hammer, lest they find their way onto the black market.
What's the Big Idea?
The spike in Chinese wine consumption is evidence of an increasingly materialistic society, not just because citizens can afford imported wines, but because it is not necessarily the wine that matters. "For some businesspeople and government officials, the value of sharing a [fine wine] lies in how much face it bestows, not how well it pairs with a meal. 'It's an immature market,' said one wine consultant. 'The first thing people care about is the label on the bottle, not the taste of the wine.'"
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A disturbing interview given by a KGB defector in 1984 describes America of today and outlines four stages of mass brainwashing used by the KGB.
- Bezmenov described this process as "a great brainwashing" which has four basic stages.
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When these companies compete, in the current system, the people lose.
- When a company reaches the top of the ladder, they typically kick it away so that others cannot climb up on it. The aim? So that another company can't compete.
- When this phenomenon happens in the pharmaceutical world, companies quickly apply for broad protection of their patents, which can last up to 20 years, and fence off research areas for others. The result of this? They stay at the top of the ladder, at the cost of everyday people benefitting from increased competition.
- Since companies have worked out how to legally game the system, Amin argues we need to get rid of this "one size fits all" system, which treats product innovation the same as product invention. Companies should still receive an incentive for coming up with new products, he says, but not 20 years if the product is the result of "tweaking" an existing one.
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