Does the EU Defend IP Enough?

The European Union faces a serious problem when it comes to intellectual property. According to a joint study between the OECD and EUIPO, as much as 5.1% of EU imports in 2013 were counterfeit, amounting to USD 116 billion (EUR 85 billion). Last year, EU customs seized over 41 million fake goods at their borders.

Counterfeit goods mislead and defraud customers, who believe they are purchasing the genuine product. Innocent customers are swindled out of their money by low-quality fakes, and the reputation of actualproducers are harmed. This undermines the essential trust required in any market exchange. It not only prevents customers from getting a legitimate product, but can even open themselves up to great personal harm as they rely on the reputable nature of the legitimate company, which the counterfeit product claims to be from.

Counterfeit goods can dodge many of the safety regulations and requirements of an honest business, leaving customers with no way to test its reliability. This is especially important when it comes to products such as food, cosmetics, medicine, and automobiles that could potentially endanger lives if consumers do not know what they are getting. Just this year, a joint Europol-INTERPOL operation resulted in the seizure of 98000 tonnes, 26.4 million liters, and 13 million units of counterfeit and substandard food and drink, all together worth an estimated EUR 230 million of goods.

Free markets are not only marked by the lack of burdensome regulation, but also by security of our possessions and the trustworthiness of contracts. The European Union must shape its policy to address these concerns and defend the physical and intellectual property of the market.

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