Spring 2019 – an operation carried out by Europol in the main ports, airports and border posts of Europe allowed the seizure of 550 tonnes of pesticides counterfeit. November 2019 – a joint operation of the European Union and the United States resulted in the seizure of 30,500 domain names that distributed pirated items and counterfeit products on the Internet.
For many international organizations, the violation of intellectual property rights is a serious business: the annual value imports of counterfeit products into the European Union amounted to 121 billion euros or 6.8% of imports from the rest of the world (World Trade Organization).
Organized crime is more involved on a European scale, counterfeiting represents a lack of earn 19 billion euros, in sectors as varied as cosmetics, wines, medicines, and toys. The loss for the cosmetics sector and personal care has progressed over 2.5 billion euros in a year.
It is an activity with substantial profit margins. Also, the risk for an infringer of being caught and the penalty it faces are shallow compared to other criminal activities. Result: the trade in counterfeit products represents around 3.3% of world trade.
One product out of twelve imported into Europe is a fake according to Europol. While production often comes from China, India, and Southeast Asia, the route goes through Albania, Egypt, Morocco, and Ukraine.
The fight against counterfeiting of products endangering human health was one of the priorities in the fight against crime. The rising terrorist risk has relegated it to the background. That is why we are campaigning for respect for intellectual property; it becomes a priority again.
It is more urgent than marketing illegal counterfeit goods goes through the Internet. The distribution made by sending small packages seems efficient. If Europe can check the containers received in ports, it is much less to check the small boxes. It takes a lot of effort. The significant growth in volumes worries everybody. The European Commission has a law in place about intellectual property.
Europol research confirms the close links between counterfeiting and other severe forms of crime like drug trafficking or money laundering. For EUIPO, it is high time to act and tackle the problem. People need to protect their creations, whether we are talking about shoes or purses, clothes, cosmetics, or medicines. The danger of using counterfeit products is enormous. A fake drug can do more harm than good. If the threat of using counterfeit products seems minor at first sight, reality offers examples that make us take the issue of counterfeit products seriously.