Piracy and falsifications: a very lucrative business

EUIPO_LOGO_ENThe European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and Europol have presented a report which aims to update professionals, companies and the general public about the current state of the world of falsification and piracy in the European Union.

The document, presented at the end of June 2017, explores intellectual property rights and their value, the key sectors which produce falsifications and the main routes and countries which supply counterfeit products. It also describes and examines the threat of piracy and other online infractions, and shows how intellectual property rights and their protection are the cornerstones of the European Union economy and society.

The report analyses the way in which organised criminal groups (OCG) participate in intellectual property crimes and uses the study of a specific number of cases to emphasise the dangers involved in this activity. Similarly, some of the challenges faced by the fight against falsification and piracy are examined, and initiatives to combat this type of crime are included.

As far as the range of counterfeit products retrieved in the European Union is concerned, it is very wide and includes all kinds of products, and also, more and more frequently, everyday products, like cosmetics, shampoo, toothpaste, toys, medication, food and beverages and household products.

Counterfeit products sold in the European Union tend to be of lesser value and, more and more often, include spare parts or other elements used in combination with genuine products. This evolution is reflected in the growing number of interceptions of lesser value products like, for example, spare parts for mobile telephones, spare screens or batteries.

Smaller items are usually falsified and sent, and then put together in the destination country.

Regarding the main typologies of products intercepted on the borders in 2015, cigarettes represent 27% of the total number of articles confiscated. Afterwards, there is a category involving other goods, with 10%; toys, 9%; labels and adhesives, with 8%, and food, 7%. These percentages refer to per unit volume. As far as the number of cases is concerned, the results are: footwear, with 17% of the total; bags and watches, with 15%, and clothes, 14%.

The so-called crimes against intellectual property, which is estimated to be worth around 461 thousand million American dollars worldwide annually, provide almost all types of products to all kinds of geographic areas.

China continues to be main country producing counterfeit products and Hong Kong is the main transit point of goods previously manufactured in China.

Terrorism, cybercrime, immigrant trafficking, drug trafficking and other areas of criminal activity have become predominant in the context of combating all kinds of crime. As can be seen in the report of the 2017 situation regarding falsification and piracy in the European Union, it is a minor crime priority. Nevertheless, crime against intellectual property continues to be one of the most lucrative criminal enterprises and is very much linked to other criminal activities.

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