The EU Intellectual Property Office was created in 1994 to oversee trademark and design protection issues across the 28 member states. For 25 years, the office has been busy accepting applications and registrations, as well as looking to protect and enforce rights of citizens and companies across the Union and beyond.
Since 2012, piracy and counterfeiting have also fallen under their jurisdiction through the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights. Their latest report (available in full here) highlights their concerns and goes some way to highlighting just how big the issue of counterfeit goods has become.
The main findings of the report:
- In 2016, the total volume of counterfeit and pirated goods may have reached over USD 500 billion (EUR 460 billion), around 3.3% of total world trade, a 0.8% increase from the same study in 2013.
- In the EU alone, imports of such goods were as high as EUR 121 billion, 6.8% of total imports.
- Most issues around counterfeit and pirated goods affect OECD countries like the US, France, Germany, Japan, Korea and the UK.
The below chart shows just how prevalent electronics, including smartphones, are in the counterfeiters’ arsenal. With an estimated 35% of the world’s global counterfeit share, the total value of exports in this single category reached USD 138 billion worldwide in 2016.
It’s safe to assume this number is even higher in 2019 as production and distribution is refined even further (as we saw when we purchased a fake iPhone for $100).
The effects of counterfeiting are damaging
The report pulls no punches regarding the dangers of such activity. The following statement is directly from the report, and while it addresses all aspects and industries affected by counterfeiting, it resonates strongly with the counterfeit smartphone world and the dangers it can introduce to unsuspecting businesses and consumers.
“The effects of trade in counterfeit goods challenge the well-being of consumers, efficient businesses and effective governance. For consumers, counterfeiting poses dangers to health, safety and privacy (e.g. counterfeit mobile phones with pre-installed malware). It may also lower consumer satisfaction, notably when low-quality fake goods are purchased unknowingly. For right holders and their authorised vendors, rising counterfeiting increases revenue losses, while trademark infringements continuously erode brand value. For governments, counterfeiting means lost tax revenues, higher unemployment and greater expenses incurred – both to ensure compliance with anti-counterfeiting legislation and to react to public safety threats and labour market distortions.”
If counterfeit and non-standard devices are of concern to you and your business, DeviceAssure can help identify such devices in real-time, effectively preventing them from slipping through the net. This applies to enterprise as well as vendors, regulators and brands: a rogue device on a corporate network can introduce numerous hidden dangers and back-doors. The efforts to mask devices as genuine are quite impressive, as we saw at MWC when we unpacked some counterfeit devices.
The EUIPO report is freely available here.