Counterfeiting: A cry for help from top brands


After a worrying OECD report last year (more on that here), this year the fight against pirated goods continued with a letter addressed to the president of the European Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker.

More than 80 companies joined their efforts to alert the Commission of the struggles they are having with counterfeits. All companies are major players in diverse markets, ranging from pharmaceuticals (Bayer, Hermes Pharma), technology (Phillips, HP), food and drinks (Coca Cola, Kellog´s), cosmetics (L´Oreal, Beiersdorf) to vesture (Chanel, Christian Dior Couture).

They reminded of the consequences of pirate trade. Not only does it impact their brands, but also results in job losses. Also, with the lack of security and quality testing, illicit products can have a serious impact on consumers´ safety. Finally, these activities are major contributors and financiers of organized crime.

They pointed out two key points which made counterfeiting easier and more accessible than ever. One is the rise of the Internet, where fakes are presented as the genuine products without investment in time, money or efforts. The second point is the expansion of intermediaries. Nowadays, trade includes more and more middlemen between the seller and the consumer, from social media, search engines, payment and delivery services, etc.

The intermediaries choose their own path: either they join the fight against counterfeits or they take the easier route and sell illicit goods. The companies are of the opinion that the intermediaries can be influenced and that the EU should enable, ease and entice making the right choice. The letter suggests the implementation of an appropriate prevention system, after which the intermediaries would be resolved of liability in case a counterfeit does find its way to the market.

Lastly, the companies urged the Commission to use the upcoming revision of the Directive on Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement to include their suggestions and create a concordant chain of counterfeit-fighting actors.