David Austin Roses displayed at the Chelsea Flower Show.
David Austin Roses displayed at the Chelsea Flower Show. - 
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JEREMY HOBSON: In London today the gardening industry is gathering for the world's most important annual flower event. But attendees better check the thorns on those roses twice because it turns out counterfeit roses have become a real problem.

The BBC's Lesley Curwen reports.

LESLEY CURWEN: Like any good businessman David Austin saw a gap in the market. Fifty years ago he combined the old English Rose with modern roses to create a fuller, more fragrant variety.

But to expand abroad, the company needs to place an enormous amount of trust in the growers they license in different countries across the globe. And the number one concern is that they don't illegally clone the company's unique roses.

David Austin, Jr. is now the managing director of David Austin Roses - he says they have to work hard to protect what is essentially, their intellectual property.

DAVID AUSTIN, JR.: We have our own licensing department with people whose full time job is just inspecting records, inspecting fields all across the globe.

Austin says they've successfully prosecuted growers for counterfeiting their roses. But their biggest challenge is China. They know there are big opportunities there with the ever growing middle class. But it's also the biggest producer of counterfeit goods and they'd be taking a huge risk with their special brand.

In London, I'm the BBC's Lesley Curwen for Marketplace.