The Tilleke & Gibbins Museum of Counterfeit Goods was established in 1989 at the firm's office in Bangkok, Thailand. However, long before that time, the firm already had in hand the main prerequisites to start a museum in the form of a large volume of counterfeit and pirated goods accumulated over the years from raids conducted on behalf of the firm's clients. The goods, which were used as evidence in court, were then stashed away in boxes, taking up valuable storage space and serving no purpose whatsoever. With the collection growing rapidly, it became apparent that a way should be found to take advantage of the counterfeit goods and turn them from the liability they were posing to a useful purpose.
The idea of creating a museum took root when David Lyman visited a Hong Kong investigative firm then called Commercial Trademark Services (CTS). Beginning in the early ’80s, CTS had successfully built up an internal collection of infringing goods. Upon seeing the CTS collection, it occurred to David that the counterfeit goods held at Tilleke & Gibbins could very well prove useful as educational tools if properly displayed and accessible for public viewing. Thus inspired, David worked with members of the firm's intellectual property team and the Tilleke & Gibbins Museum of Counterfeit Goods came into existence.
At the outset, the collection consisted of approximately 100 items divided into a few basic categories: clothing, leather goods, electronics, and toiletries. However, with new items gathered on a continuing basis from raids overseen by the firm—plus samples of the genuine goods which the firm obtains—the collection has rapidly grown. At present, the museum’s collection is composed of more than 4,000 pieces of IP-infringing goods, making it one of the largest of its kind in the world.