Hong Kong
07 February 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Infringement could have $4.2 trillion impact in five years


Counterfeiting and piracy could cost $4.2 trillion globally by 2022, according to a new report.

The report, from Frontier Economics, an economics research firm, was released during the International Trademark Association’s (INTA) 2017 Hong Kong Anti-Counterfeiting Conference on 6 February.

It provided estimates that, combined with wider social and economic impacts on displaced economic activity, investment, public fiscal losses and criminal enforcement, the negative impacts of counterfeiting and piracy could drain $4.2 trillion from the global economy and put 5.4 million legitimate jobs at risk by 2022.

Amar Breckenridge, senior associate at Frontier Economics, said: “This new study shows that the magnitude of counterfeiting and piracy is huge, and growing.”

“The results show once again that in an interconnected economy, consumers and governments suffer alongside legitimate businesses from the trade in counterfeit and pirated goods."

According to the report, counterfeiting and piracy “continue to grow at an astounding rate” and, “despite increased efforts”, the problem “is getting worse, not better”.

Etienne Sanz de Acedo, CEO of INTA, which commissioned the report with the International Chamber of Commerce's Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy, said it is "vital" for governments to step up enforcement of intellectual property rights.

Helen Saunders, head of intelligence and operations at brand protection specialist INCOPRO, said the report is unsurprising but “sobering news”.

She commented: “Technology has evolved rapidly over the past couple of decades, expanding the methods for brands to market and sell consumers their goods, which regrettably also means that organised counterfeit networks are capitalising quickly on these innovations.”

To combat this, brands “must fight digital threats with digital weapons” and greater emphasis must be placed on eliminating entire networks of counterfeiters.

“Taking down one seller at a time won't work and is simply putting a plaster on the problem. To eradicate the problem for good; brands, lawyers, law enforcement agencies and governments need to work together and target the big players, cutting them off before they can profit.”

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