Sage Africa Newsroom

Q&A with Audrey Plantureux – Intellectual Property Manager at Sage

What is counterfeiting and what are its consequences?

17 June 2016

  1. How would you define counterfeiting?
    “In legal terms, counterfeiting is defined as reproduction, imitation or total or partial use of an intellectual property right such as a patent, brand or copyright, without the owner's authorization.”

  2. What does that mean in practice?
    “A counterfeiter seeks to benefit from an enterprise's success and to take unfair advantage of the investments it has made, whether in R&D or promotional.” 

  3. What is the scale of counterfeiting in the world in financial terms?
    “A study conducted jointly by the OECD and EUIPO demonstrated that international trade in counterfeit goods in 2013 represented 461 billion dollars.  So in the European Union, 5% of imports would be fake products, resulting in a loss of 85 billion Euro.

  4. The financial consequences of such losses directly impact the economy and society, affecting jobs with for example, the loss of 100,000 jobs in Europe, according to the same study.”

  5. How do you explain this surge in counterfeiting?
    “I have to say that counterfeiting offers significant gains in return for a relatively low investment, since the R&D investments and promotion are carried out by the imitated organization! And unfortunately the penalties are not great deterrents compared with those for other criminal activities.”

  6. Are certain sectors more likely to be the subject of counterfeiting?
    “All sectors are affected, from aerospace through to cigarettes, medicines, software, leather goods, and so on.”

  7. Besides the economic consequences just mentioned, are there other harmful effects of counterfeiting?
    “Absolutely, in January 2016 the manufacturers' association Unifab published a report revealing that counterfeiting is currently a preferred source of financing for malicious activities. It should also be noted that counterfeiting encourages other illicit activities such as infringements of labour law or of product manufacturing standards thereby directly threatening consumer health and safety. 

    To sum up, no sector in the international economy is immune to counterfeiting and the economic and social repercussions must be taken very seriously.”