A recent study published by the OECD in collaboration with the EUIPO reveals data concerning the economic and social impact of the trade in pirated and counterfeit goods in the major economies of developed countries. Among European companies, Italian ones are the hardest hit from unlawful activities of pirating and counterfeiting.


The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in concert with the European Union Intellectual Property Office, has published a recent study focusing on the economic and social impact of trading in counterfeit and pirated goods in the European Union. The data analysed by the European Offices clearly show that Italy is the hardest hit by trading in pirated and counterfeit goods, second only to the United States of America.

The European Offices analysed the outcomes of over a million seizures of pirated and counterfeit goods carried out by the customs offices across the World in the period 2011/2013. The main databases utilized for the present study are those provided by the World Customs Organisation (WCO), by the Directorate General for Taxation and Customs Union (DG TAXUD) and by the US Department for Homeland Security (DHS). Moreover, several experts in matters of commerce and customs protection were interviewed.

The study shows that in 2013 the sale of counterfeit products exceeded 2.5% of world-wide sales of products, amounting to approximately 461 billion dollars. With regard to the European Union, in 2013 pirated and counterfeited products formed over 5% of importations, for a value of about 85 billion euros. Consequently, on the basis of the data that has been collected, the impact of counterfeiting and piracy on the economy of developed countries (such as the economy of the European Union) is double in comparison to that which affects the rest of the World. A vast range of products has been the object of counterfeiting and piracy activities. From the analysis of the data it emerges that any product to which IP assets may confer an additional value has become the target of counterfeiting. Among the most affected products are luxury items (for example, watches, perfumery and leather products) in addition to mass consumer products (toys, pharmaceutical products, cosmetics and food items).

The majority of brands are targeted by counterfeiting activities. However, it is worrying to find that, within the European Union, Italian companies are the most affected by such phenomenon, and globally are second only to US companies. On the other hand it is no surprise that China is the major exporter of counterfeit products towards the European Union. Moreover, counterfeit goods entering the European Union follow increasingly diversified and complex routes, taking advantage of transit stations where the right holder is prevented from taking immediate and effective action for the protection of his rights. This is due to the ability of counterfeiters who attempt to hide the original starting point of the goods and to the re-packaging and re-labelling of the products. Furthermore, it must be considered that while imported products are generally subjected to accurate inspections by the local customs authorities, goods in transit do not fall within the scope of the inspections and therefore are less likely to be intercepted. The preferred routes for global counterfeiting are Hong Kong, China and the United Arab Emirates.