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Subject : Ruling on Buying Counterfeit Goods

Fatwa Number : 3676

Date : 20-01-2022

Classified : Current Financial Issues

Fatwa Type : Search Fatawaa

Question :

What is the ruling of Sharia on buying goods from companies that make lookalike goods bearing fake trademarks?

The Answer :

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of The Worlds. May His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all of his family and companions.

Islam orders the Muslim to be honest in dealing with others and not to deceive or cheat them. It was narrated from Ibn 'Umar that the Messenger of Allah (Blessings and peace be upon him) said: 'The trustworthy, honest Muslim merchant will be with the martyrs on the Day of Resurrection." {Ibn Majah}. Basically, a Muslim should be innovative and creative in his line of work and avoid copying as far as possible.

However, we have to draw a distinction between types of counterfeit goods. If they bear a stolen trademark, then this is forbidden as it involves cheating and transgressing against trademark rights: financial rights that have material value, which must be protected.

If the goods bear no stolen trademark; rather, they bear lookalike trademark by which people could be deceived, then the ruling, in this case, depends on the purpose behind buying these goods. If it is for personal use, then this is permissible under the condition that the seller doesn`t lie or resort to deception in order to sell those counterfeit items. If the purpose is to trade in these goods, then this isn`t permissible because many customers are deceived by such practices thinking that the goods are original while, in fact, they are counterfeit.

As for the goods that are counterfeited in terms of design only and don`t hold any trademarks whatsoever, then this is regulated by the laws pertaining to intellectual property rights that preserve the rights of innovation and creation. The International Islamic Fiqh Academy has issued resolution No.(43, 5/5) concerning incorporeal rights where it states: "First: Trade name, corporate name, trade mark, authorship and invention are rights to whom they belong and-in modern custom-they are of considerable material value from which money is generated. In light of Sharia, these rights are considerable. Therefore, any transgression against them is impermissible."

In conclusion, basically, transactions should be free of cheating or violating the rights of others. Thus, if no cheating or forgery is involved, then a transaction is permissible from an Islamic perspective. However, we advise customers to inspect goods they buy and try to differentiate between the original and the counterfeit. We also remind traders to fear Allah in their dealings. And Allah the Almighty knows best.



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