Counterfeiting is growing at a fast pace across the world. Different reports show disturbing figures related to counterfeiting.
According to Global Brand Counterfeiting Report, “The amount of total counterfeiting globally has reached 1.2 Trillion USD in 2017 and is bound to reach 1.82 Trillion USD by the year 2020 which includes counterfeiting of all equipment/products from defense equipment’s to counterfeiting of watches.”
The report also states that losses incurred by luxury brands because of the sale of counterfeiting through the internet accounted for 30.3 Billion USD.
A report by OECD states that trade in fake goods is 3.3% of the world trade.
Link between counterfeiting and criminal activities
The above-mentioned figures clearly point towards the high growth of counterfeiting over the last few years, however, counterfeiting has also led to the growth of other criminal activities.
Many organized criminals deal in the sale of counterfeit goods as it is a lucrative business and there are less severe punishments to deal with it. With the penetration of the internet in far-flung places, criminals are making huge profits by selling counterfeits in the e-commerce space.
So, what do these criminals do with the money made by selling counterfeit goods? In most cases, they use it to fuel other criminal activities like human trafficking, illegal arms trade, drug trade, and even terrorism.
One can remember the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France in which many people died. The gruesome attacks were carried out by selling fake sneakers. Many international organizations have established a close link between counterfeiting and other criminal activities.
Counterfeiting is a growing menace across the world. The crime promotes other heinous crimes and the vicious cycle continues without an end. However, counterfeiting can be prevented by increasing consumer awareness, strict implementation of regulatory measures and ensuring the use of anti-counterfeiting solutions.
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The world is a global village as there is a high interdependence of countries on each other in different fields. From world-wide-web to culture, technological innovation to trade, military alliances to transport there are many scenarios in which the world seems to function as a unified whole.
Among the above-mentioned aspects, trade and investment play an important role in the economic development of countries. Of late, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has become quite important for third world countries when it comes to their economic development. FDI impacts the economic growth of the host country (a country in which investment is done) through the transfer of new technologies, organization of human resources, increase in employment, linking of global markets, the rise of infrastructure and much more.
However, the rise of counterfeiting can damage the FDI prospects of a country and its potential to create valuable innovation centres. FDI is important for both advanced and emerging economies to increase their productivity and output. Lack of intellectual property rights and anti-counterfeiting measures diminish the chances of FDI. In India, the industries most impacted by lack of FDI due to counterfeiting include equipment manufacturing and pharmaceuticals.
The total reduction in FDI due to counterfeiting and piracy is quite harmful to aspects like employment, infrastructure and socio-economic development. Countries are sceptical of investing in prospecting countries with weak IP laws as it may lead to counterfeiting of their products, theft of their technologies, reduction in their profits and damage to the brand image.
With the implementation of stringent regulatory measures and anti-counterfeiting technologies, duplication can be prevented to a large extent which will further brighten the chances of foreign direct investment. For ensuring impeccable security against counterfeiting it is must that supply chains must also be secured. A comprehensive outlook towards anti-counterfeiting guarantees the economic development of a country.
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Counterfeiting or duplication is a growing problem across the world. It badly affects the government, businesses, and consumers. People across the world are suffering from the menace of duplicate products which is regularly authenticated by different reports and news coming from different parts of the world.
Market experts believe that the growing globalization is the main reason behind rampant duplication. They say that in order to increase their manufacturing capacity and hire cheap labor big companies shifted their base to developing and third world countries. However, the major problem in these areas was that of lack of anti-duplication regulation and poor IP laws.
This made the way for counterfeiters and they were easily able to steal technology to manufacture duplicate goods. With the passage of time, they became more organized and took counterfeiting on a much larger scale.
According to a report by OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) United States, Italy, France, Switzerland, Japan, and Germany are the hardest hit countries, with the majority (83%) of fake goods originating (not surprisingly) from China and Hong Kong. European brands are among the most impacted, with an estimated 5% of all goods imported into the European Union (EU) being fake. This represents as much as $118 billion.
With the growth and penetration of internet technology counterfeits are now being sold on different internet platforms. According to the International Trademark Association, “Criminals prefer to sell counterfeits on the Internet for many reasons. They can hide behind the anonymity of the Internet with the Dark Web even their IP addresses can be hidden. The Internet gives them the reach to sell to consumers globally-outside of the national limits of law enforcement.”
The global problem of counterfeiting must be addressed on multiple fronts with collaborative efforts of the government, industry players and anti-counterfeiting solution providers.
International law enforcement and market experts have established a close link between counterfeiting and other forms of criminal activities. It has been found that the counterfeiting business helps criminals to fuel other illegal activities and vice-versa. EUROPOL (European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation) has even warned that counterfeiting is an increasingly attractive avenue for organized crime syndicates to diversify and increase their illicit businesses.
It has also been found that counterfeiters use similar routes and modus operandi to supply counterfeit goods as they do to smuggle drugs, firearms and human trafficking. Profits from other crimes and illicit activities also help in the production and distribution of counterfeit goods. Many reports from different countries have established the fact that profits from crimes like drug trafficking and other crimes were used to promote the business of counterfeiting and, similarly proceeds from the sale of duplicate goods were used to promote the criminal’s other illicit activities.
One of the main reasons why criminals choose counterfeiting over other criminal activities is due to its favourable ratio between potential profits and possible risks. According to Executive Director, UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) Yuri Fedotov, “In comparison to other crimes such as drug trafficking, the production and distribution of counterfeit goods present a low-risk/high-profit opportunity for criminals. Counterfeiting feeds money laundering activities and encourages corruption. There is also evidence of some involvement or overlap with drug trafficking and other serious crimes.”
As per trade, reports counterfeiting is now placed amongst the highest income sources for organized criminal activities. Counterfeiting or duplication also helps in money laundering by providing a platform through which criminal organization can invest the proceeds of their illicit activities. In a nutshell, organized crime syndicates use counterfeiting as a medium to optimize their other criminal activities.