The European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are carrying out a series of studies on the global trade in counterfeit and pirated products, analysing the impact on the economy, and the share of international trade affected by the phenomenon. In particular, the main goal of this study is to assess quantitatively the value, scope and trends of trade in counterfeit and pirated tangible products.
These studies focus primarily on infringement of copyrights, trademarks, design rights, and patents, but do not cover intangible infringements, such as on-line piracy, or infringements of other intellectual property rights.
The reports follow, complete and develop a previous study from OECD on The Economic Impact of Counterfeiting and Piracy, published in 2008.
This research shows the depth and breadth of international trade routes in counterfeit and pirated goods across the world. Our past studies have shown that practically any product or brand can be counterfeited — this report highlights the ways in which fake goods can be transported from one corner of the globe to the other.
Effects and magnitude of the phenomenon
Trade routes in counterfeit and pirated products stretch across the globe, through different international transit points and sometimes multiple transport methods. The ten sectors analysed in the report represent more than half the total estimated trade in fake goods worldwide at a value of more than EUR 208 billion in 2013. They are: fake foodstuffs; fake pharmaceutical products; fake perfumery and cosmetics; fake leather articles and handbags; fake clothing and fabrics; fake footwear; fake jewellery; fake electronics and electrical equipment; fake optical, photographic and medical equipment; and fake toys, games and sports equipment.
Smugglers of counterfeit goods are using Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Singapore as their main global trading hubs, importing container loads of fake goods, which will then travel on by various transport modes including post or courier services.
The report finds that several locations in the Middle East — including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen — are key transit points for sending fake goods to Africa.
Additionally, four transit points — Albania, Egypt, Morocco and Ukraine — are used for introducing fakes into the European Union, and Panama is an important transit point for counterfeit goods en route to the United States.
Around three quarters of counterfeit products are transported by sea, with courier services and regular post emerging as common ways of moving smaller counterfeit items. Shipments of less than ten items accounted for 43 % of all counterfeit shipments in 2013.
China is the top provenance economy in nine out of ten key economic sectors analysed in the report. Several Asian economies — such as India, Thailand, Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Viet Nam — are important producers in many sectors, although their role is far less significant than China’s. In addition, Turkey appears to be an important producer of fake goods in certain sectors — such as leather goods, foodstuffs and cosmetics — which are then sent to the EU.