Intellectual Property |  Dec 09, 2016

The Economic Cost of Counterfeiting and Piracy in the European Union

Author: Dr. Nicole Attard

Between the months of March of 2015 and September 2016, the EU’s Office for the Protection of Intellectual Property (EUIPO) conducted an array of studies concerning losses incurred from the sale of counterfeit products on an EU wide basis, focusing on each and every Member State. It was recently reported that Malta’s losses amount to €43 million annually, with wine and spirits interestingly exceeding the EU average. Ultimately, the main scope of these studies is to provide a clearer picture for concerned citizens, businesses and organizations with respect to the European Union’s economic losses connected to illegal activities. Furthermore, with Christmas just around the corner, citizens ought to be aware of the consequences of purchasing counterfeit products.

The studies carried out by the Office show that the millions are continuously lost due to the sale of counterfeit products in a variety of different sectors. The nine sectors that are mostly affected are the following: spirits and wines, clothing, sports goods, jewellery and watches, cosmetics and personal care, handbags, footwear and accessories, and pharmaceuticals.

The European Observatory on infringements of Intellectual Property Rights reckons that over
€48 billion are lost on an annual basis in all the aforementioned sectors as a result of the filtration of counterfeit goods in the EU’s market. Moreover, a further €35 billion are lost on an annual basis across the 28 Member States as a result of the associated consequences of counterfeiting and piracy. The EUIPO reveals that those lost sales may also be interpreted as the loss of approximately 790,000 jobs every year throughout the European Union.

Notably, back in November 2013, a comprehensive survey was conducted to study the level of awareness and behaviour amongst European Union citizens. The findings of this survey demonstrate that although citizens are aware of the significance of Intellectual Property, in most cases they also have a tendency to brush aside the occurrence of infringements. Nevertheless, the Observatory is currently determined to continue evaluating and publishing its studies in order to acquaint citizens with the seriousness relating to counterfeiting and piracy.

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