In 2015 the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market published a report on the phenomenon of counterfeiting in Europe.
The fight against counterfeit products, especially those that endanger the health and safety of consumers, has become a priority in the policies of the Member States of the European Union.
Where counterfeit products come from
It has emerged that more than two thirds of counterfeit goods circulating in Europe come from China. However, counterfeit goods come also from many other Countries: among them we mention India for pharmaceuticals, Egypt for food, Turkey for perfumes and cosmetics. Counterfeit products coming to Europe pass mostly through Egypt, Hong Kong, Morocco, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.
Importation of products not bearing any trademark does not constitute a crime. The problem is that to these products are often added counterfeit labels to be distributed and circulated in Europe.
We must not overlook, however, that some of the counterfeit goods are produced in the area of EU Countries, such as Belgium, Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, Poland and the UK.
Web, e-commerce and counterfeiting
An important factor in the distribution and sale of counterfeit goods is e-commerce, also thanks to the introduction of new “generic Top-level Domains”, as .sport, .fashion, .market and so on, which may confuse consumers as to the true origin of the goods, causing them to buy on line – sometimes consciously, sometimes not – counterfeit goods.
This report shows that counterfeit goods are not just clothing and accessories of luxury brands, but also pharmaceutical products, electronic products, household products, cosmetics, automotive spare parts, pesticides, food, drinks and more.
The danger of counterfeiting
Many of these products are potentially dangerous to the health and safety of the consumers, as they can contain chemicals and bad components. For example, the report highlights cases of shampoo found to cause chemical burns to the scalp and using counterfeited batteries has resulted in explosions and fires. The Italian foods products are often the victims of violations of geographical indications as well as adulteration.
Often counterfeiters have links with other are of organized crime. It is known, for example, the link existing between the camorra and the Chinese network of counterfeiting. The port of Naples is widely used by Chinese shipping companies and is one of the main entry points of counterfeit goods, whether finished goods to be placed on the market or materials used to engage in counterfeiting.
Proposals against counterfeiting
According to the report of the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, it would be worth considering the creation of a multidisciplinary task force, similar to that existing in the United States, for the fight against counterfeiting. Such a task force would permit a focused and global approach to meet the various operational and administrative goals.