Policies & Issues

[Anti-]Counterfeiting

What is it?

Counterfeiting is a process of fraudulently manufacturing, altering, or distributing a product that is of lesser value than the genuine product.

Counterfeiting and piracy of both industrial and consumer goods pose a critical challenge to the European and world economies and, in the engineering industries sector, to the safety of consumers and workers. It is a serious problem for companies with implications far beyond the brand image. Counterfeiting is a criminal offence when it involves intent to defraud by passing off a counterfeit item.

 

Why is it important?

The engineering sectors most affected by counterfeiting are the electrical industry (in particular electrical appliances, kettles, electrical installation material) and a range of sectors in the mechanical engineering and metalworking sectors: hand and measuring tools, cooking utensils, locks, taps, valves and fasteners. Suppliers to these industries also fall prey to counterfeiters, as piracy of electronic components has increased dramatically in recent years. For example, Member companies have reported in the past finding circuit breakers that are in fact pushbutton switches, fuses that are solid copper links, and kettle controls that do not switch off the element when the water boils. The consequences of using these products could be catastrophic. In addition to the losses suffered by our companies directly, counterfeiting causes significant tax losses by governments, and loss of investment opportunities.

With the aim of encouraging greater collaboration between the public and private sector, a European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights was created, serving as a platform to join forces, exchange experiences and information, and share best practices on enforcement. The Observatory is managed by OHIM (the European Union Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market), and its work is divided into Operations and Projects, and Economics and Statistics.

 

Our viewpoint

In recent years, Orgalime has campaigned in favour of a determined fight against counterfeiting and piracy, and has welcomed initiatives from the European Commission and other international organisations supporting IPR protection and anti-counterfeiting measures.

 

How we’ve been engaged

In 2010, Orgalime participated in the Commission consultation on Council Regulation (EC) 1383/2003, seeing it as an opportunity for the EU to truly make a difference in protecting its borders and markets from counterfeit and pirated goods. As a result of the consultation, and as part of a new overall IPR strategy for the Single Market, from 1 January 2014 a new Regulation (EU) No 608/2013 provides procedural rules for customs authorities to enforce intellectual property rights against infringing goods.  [more]

Following the Commission’s proposal for a draft directive to align existing laws against the misappropriation of trade secrets across the EU, Directive 2016/943 on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure was published the Official Journal in June 2016. Our industry supports the initiative of the Commission to ensure efficient and practical protection of trade secrets. This is consistent with a thriving and innovative European market, which will now more than ever shift towards a market of research, development and innovation. Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned about certain parts of the proposal, especially in relation to definitions that might lead to confusion or even lower the protection level currently provided by some member states. The proposal is currently being examined in the European Parliament.

 

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