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.
Our report tracks a growing – and worrying – phenomenon in counterfeit trade, in that small parcel shipments sent via post or courier services are harder for customs officials to track and seize.
Effects and magnitude of the problem
Trade in counterfeit goods represents a longstanding, and growing, worldwide socio-economic risk that threatens effective public governance, efficient business and the well-being of consumers. Counterfeit and pirated products tend to be shipped by virtually every means of transport. In the analysed period, in terms of value, counterfeits transported by container ship clearly dominated. In terms of number of seizures, trafficking fakes by small parcels is growing, becoming a significant problem in terms of enforcement. The small parcels used by counterfeiters for trafficking are shipped either through postal or express services.
In the time period studied, nearly 63% of customs seizures of counterfeit and pirated goods involved small parcels.
The size of these mail or express courier shipments tends to be very small, with packages with 10 items or less accounting for the majority of all seizures.
84% of shipments of counterfeit footwear, 77% of fake optical, photographic and medical equipment (mostly sunglasses), and 66% of customs seizures of information and communications technology (ICT) devices involved postal parcels or express shipments.
More than 63% of customs seizures of counterfeit watches, leather articles and handbags, and jewellery involved postal parcels or express shipments.
Between 2011 and 2013, 63% of the total number of customs seizures of counterfeit and pirated goods worldwide referred to postal and courier routes.
According to the European Commission, 76% of fake goods intercepted in the EU in 2017 were courier and postal small shipments.