Onslaught of Counterfeit Goods on Markets Is Increasing

Authors: Mykolas Jakutis, Senior Lawyer, Assistant Attorney-at-Law at METIDA

mykolasThe increasingly shocking statistics of counterfeiting reaffirms that trade in counterfeit goods is constantly growing thus causing increasingly higher economic and social losses.

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have carried out an in-depth analysis, and presented a detailed report with the results which once again proved that the increasing global trade in counterfeit and pirated goods causes major damage to modern economy. The summary of the aforementioned detailed analysis and its main conclusions are available here. The full version of the detailed analysis can be found here.

The statistical charts and tables presented in the analysis are particularly important and interesting, as they easily and clearly demonstrate that the statistics of counterfeiting is rather shocking. The total number of all consignments of counterfeit goods seized by customs all over the world exceeded 100,000 items every year (in 2011, 2012 and 2013). As one consignment of goods may comprise thousands of counterfeit goods, it is obvious that the numbers of seized goods are rather large.

For example, just like every other year, the biggest number of seized counterfeit goods was from East Asia, China, namely, from Hong Kong. Again, the vast majority of counterfeit goods was sent from Turkey, Singapore, Thailand, India, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Egypt.

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Another interesting fact is that almost 20% of all seized goods were marked by trademarks registered in the United States of America. The remaining part of seized goods were marked by trademarks registered in Italy (15%), France and Switzerland (12% each), Japan and Germany (8% each). The remaining part of counterfeit trademarks used for counterfeit goods was registered in the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Spain, Belgium, etc.

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The range of seized counterfeit goods (products) was also very wide, starting from luxury goods to everyday consumer goods, cheap goods and household items. For example, in 2013 the goods counterfeited most often included various footwear (~27,000), clothes (~18,000), leather articles (~18,000), electrical appliances (~16,000), watches (~7,000), medical instruments (~6000), perfumery (~5,000). It is worth noting that inappropriate quality makes certain categories of goods, for example, toys, medicines or spare parts, dangerous to human health or unsafe for use, therefore namely these categories of counterfeit goods pose substantial risks for consumers.

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Lithuania is no exception, as an increasingly bigger number of counterfeit goods flows to it every year. The statistics of counterfeit goods seized in Lithuania may also seem to be shocking. The Lithuanian customs officials seized over 4.9 million of counterfeit goods last year, and this number had grown even in 55 times in comparison to 2015! In Lithuania, as well as in other countries the majority of counterfeit goods is found in postal consignments, when parcels containing clothes of known brands, various footwear, mobile phones and their accessories, children toys, cosmetic products, and goods of many other categories are ordered on the internet, most often from online stores of China.

For example, in 2016 the officials detected a number of cases in which Chinese producers attempted to supply counterfeit confectionery to the Lithuanian market. A consignment of chewing gum with the trademark F1 was seized. The consignment consisted of over 6,000 packages of chewing gum 36 pieces each, i. e., over 220,000 items and 4,700 kilos of counterfeit goods which could have been placed on the Lithuanian market and caused certain health problems to the consumers acquiring them in result of their uncertain and unreliable quality. In this case the aforementioned consignment of goods was destroyed.

It is obvious that the vast majority of counterfeit products nevertheless gets to the markets of Lithuania and other countries, therefore the consumers should themselves take special care before acquiring a potentially counterfeit article. One or more universal features which would allow recognising a counterfeit product do not exist; however, the price of an article is namely the one of the essential features. The prices of counterfeit goods are always low in comparison to the ones of original goods. However, this is not always the case, as good quality counterfeit goods most often cost just as much as the original products do.

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