The difference

Legality means an act is in accordance with the law. Ethics is about concepts of right and wrong behaviour. Some actions may be legal but in some people’s opinion not ethical. For example, testing medicines on animals is legal in many countries but some people believe it is not ethical. Read through this list of actions and and then sort them into two columns – those you think are against the law and which ones are unethical. Is this always the same?

Case studies

You’re now going to read two case studies of innovative start up companies. Download the case studies and then we’ll think about  the issues they raise.


Imagine if an illegal organisation copied the trade mark and copyright logo of the bottled water and the textiles and clothing designs What do you think would be the negative consequences and possible dangers for the workers, the consumers and the environment?

Whom does it affect?

Look at this Venn diagram setting out three groups that can be affected by fake products. With a partner, look at the words and phrases below and select the appropriate group. Remember that some factors may impact on more than one group.

When you have completed your diagram think about the Intellectual Property owner or the creator(s) of the original product. How do you think this person (or team of people) is affected by the creation of fake goods?

Legal or Ethical

In the first column of the chart below, are a series of quotes from a range of sources. Some raise legal problems – that is, they breach the law. Others raise ethical problems – that is, they disregard common concepts of right and wrong.

Read them all through carefully and decide whether they raise a legal or an ethical problem – or both.

Counterfeit alcohol puts people in danger and denies taxpayers of millions of pounds in unpaid duty – money which should be spent on vital public services. Read More


Counterfeit and pirated trade is a major threat to any modern, knowledge-based economy. Read More


We were able to buy must-have items such as a fake Louis Vuitton satchel for £15, counterfeit Jimmy Choo shoes for £10, fake Beats headphones for £5 and a “Nike England” shirt for £20, all way below prices for the real thing. Read More


Extension activity

If you have access to the Internet, search this database of case studies to find examples of innovative brands successfully producing new trademarked products whilst protecting the environment and respecting workers’ and consumers’ rights:

Make a list of three of your favourite products giving reasons for your choice.