With intellectual property (IP) rights serving as a strong factor in promoting innovation, economic growth, and consumer and societal benefits, the by-products of ‘negative IP’—counterfeiting—are precisely the opposite. New studies from the OECD, the EU Intellectual Property Office (OECD) and Interpol map the current hotspots and trade routes for counterfeit products, and outline the damage that these pose for both the economy and consumers world-wide.
The OECD and the EUIPO recently released the report ‘Mapping the Real Routes of Trade in Fake Goods’, and the EUIPO and Interpol issued the related report ‘Counterfeiting and Piracy in the European Union’, which attempt to detail the sources and tactics of the international criminals that are among the principal beneficiaries of IP counterfeiting.
The OECD/EUIPO report identifies China as the top producer of counterfeit goods, followed in particular sectors by several other Asian countries, including India, Thailand, Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan and Vietnam. Important transit points for counterfeit trade include Hong Kong, the UAR and Singapore, with several other regional transit points identified, including Panama for fakes coming into the U.S.
The EUIPO/Interpol report highlights the involvement of organised crime in counterfeiting, as well as the source countries and trade routes for fakes coming into the EU, which include free trade zones and online sources as well as traditional Asia-to-Europe shipping lanes. This report estimates that infringing goods have an overall impact of up to 5% on EU imports, and 2.5% of world trade.
And what is the overall result of this ‘negative IP’ activity? The OECD/EUIPO explain:
“Trade in counterfeit goods not only damages economic growth but also undermines good governance, the rule of law and citizens’ trust in government, and can ultimately threaten political stability. In some cases, the fakes can also have serious health, safety and environmental implications.”