Counterfeiting differences between 1997 vs 2020

Counterfeiting differences between 1997 vs 2020

In 1997, the US Customs seized Intellectual Property infringing goods worth USD 54 million. The top five suppliers of counterfeit goods to the US, were China, Korea, Taipei, Hong Kong and the Philippines. The main sources of fake good imported to the European Union were Poland, Thailand, Turkey and the US. The most common counterfeit products were CDs, videos and computer games (The economic impact of counterfeiting ,1998).

Fast forward to 2013, the international trade of counterfeit products has increased to USD 461 billion, represented 2.5% of the world trade. It was then increased to USD 509 billion in 2016. Types of counterfeiting goods have also expanded to include footwear, clothing, leather goods, electrical equipment, medical equipment, toys, pharmaceuticals and more.

The continuous growth of counterfeit goods can be explained by the rapid digital transformation. With the widespread adoption of digital technologies, it enables firms to internationalise at a lower cost, allowing more small parcels to cross borders. As a result, counterfeit and pirated products can be shipped by virtually every means of transport. To illustrate, small parcels accounted for 69% of global total customs seizures by volume over 2014-2016, up from 63% over the 2011-2013 period.

Compared to 1997, more countries have become the top producers and transition points for trade in counterfeit, such as India, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates and Turkey. Four transit points – Albania, Egypt, Morocco and Ukraine – are of particular significance for redistributing fakes destined for the EU. Finally, Panama has also become an important transit point for fake products to the United States (Trends in trade in counterfeit and pirated good, 2019).

Counterfeiting and trademark infringements are serious Intellectual Property (IP) crimes. For consumers, “fake” or “forged” products pose a significant threat to their safety, by unsuspectingly putting their health in jeopardy each time they use counterfeited products. For businesses and IP rights holders, the rise in counterfeiting results in revenue loss and negative brand image. For governments, it also means huge losses in tax revenues and increase in unemployment.

Counterfeiting has yet seen slowdown, compared to 25 years ago. The amount of counterfeiting globally has reached to USD 1.2 trillion in 2017 and is bound to reach USD 1.82 trillion by 2020 (Global Brand Counterfeiting Report 2018-2020, 2018).

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