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Global counterfeit trade mostly targets U.S., Italian and French brands

April 18, 2016

According to a new report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Union's Intellectual Property Office released this week, the top countries whose companies had their intellectual property rights infringed by seizures were the United States, whose brands or patents were affected by 20% of the knock-offs, then Italy with 15%, and France and Switzerland with 12% each. Japan and Germany stood at 8% each followed by the UK and Luxembourg.

The report "Trade in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Mapping the Economic Impact" puts the value of imported fake goods worldwide at US$ 461 billion in 2013, compared with total imports in world trade of US$ 17.9 trillion. Up to 5% of goods imported into the European Union are fakes. Most originate in middle income or emerging countries, with China the top producer.

The report analyzes nearly half a million customs seizures around the world over 2011-13 to produce the most rigorous estimate to date of the scale of counterfeit trade.

Fake products crop up in everything from handbags and perfumes to machine parts and chemicals. Footwear is the most-copied item though trademarks are infringed even on strawberries and bananas. Counterfeiting also produces knockoffs that endanger lives - auto parts that fail, pharmaceuticals that make people sick, toys that harm children, baby formula that provides no nourishment and medical instruments that deliver false readings.

Postal parcels are the top method of shipping bogus goods, accounting for 62% of seizures over 2011-13, reflecting the growing importance of online commerce in international trade.

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