On 19 September 2017, the first Europol conference to address crime against intellectual property began in Anvers (Belgium).
A total of 400 lawyers, experts in security and representatives of different industrial sectors of over 42 countries attended the opening of this conference. The organisers indicated that the purpose of the conference was to review new crime trends and propose strategies to apply the law and good practices in anything related to crime against intellectual property, via the study of operational cases and industrial prospects.
According to a study elaborated by the European Union Intellectual Property Office de (EUIPO), violation of intellectual property is a significant phenomenon in expansion. International commerce of fake products represents 2.5% of commerce worldwide, or in total figures: 388 billion Euros.1 As an example, this is the equivalent to the GDP of Austria. The impact of piracy is particularly high within the European Union, representing 5% of the imports of member states, or in total figures: 85 billion Euros.2
Because of the potential profit and the relatively low risk of possible legal consequences, piracy processes continue to evolve and will be more and more sophisticated. It is for this reason that the conference brought together people from different sectors, environments and countries to generate new knowledge and develop tangible measures to fight against piracy on a global scale.
Irrespective of future courses of action of Europol in this context, it is indeed relevant to explain the consequences of this type of crime, and stress the measures and actions that the European Agency has taken so far to combat them.
The main consequences of crimes against intellectual property are that they reduce the income of affected companies. The resulting adverse social and economic effects of those companies which are victims of such crime include the loss of employment and the livelihood of thousands of people. There are also other kinds of collateral damage, like that of fake products which are manufactured without taking into consideration the health and safety regulations of the EU, which means that they may be dangerous for consumers. The revenue of state members may also be affected by forgery and piracy, which might have an impact on innovation and investment, impede economic growth and reduce the creation of wealth.3
To promote the fight against forgery and piracy on line, in 2016 Europol and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) united to create the International Property Crime Coordination Centre (IPC3), which operates within Europol.
To give an example of the social costs of crimes against intellectual property, falsification of clothes in the EU costs 43.3 billion Euros in losses to companies of the sector, which translates to losses of 8.1 billion in revenue for the states and 518,281 jobs.4
1 Europol (2017). EXPERTS GATHER TO COLLECTIVELY RESPOND TO INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CRIME. [online] Available at: https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/experts-gather-to-collectively-respond-to-intellectual-property-crime [Accessed 20 Sep. 2017].
2 OECD/EUIPO (2016). Trade in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Mapping the Economic Impact. [online] Paris: OECD Publishing, p.5. Available at: https://euipo.europa.eu/tunnel-web/secure/webdav/guest/document_library/observatory/documents/Mapping_the_ Economic_Impact_study/Mapping_the_Economic_Impact_en.pdf [Accessed 20 Sep. 2017].
3 Europol. (2017). Intellectual property crime. [online] Available at: https://www.europol.europa.eu/crime-areas-and-trends/crime-areas/intellectual-property-crime [Accessed 6 Oct. 2017].
4 Europol. (2017). Intellectual property crime. [online] Available at: https://www.europol.europa.eu/crime-areas-and-trends/crime-areas/intellectual-property-crime [Accessed 6 Oct. 2017].