The 2017 Situation Report on Counterfeiting and Piracy in the European Union prepared by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and EUROPOL has been currently released.
It covers the topic of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) infringements throughout Europe on a large scale including an overview on counterfeit goods in the EU, key product sectors and key countries of provenance, piracy, involved criminal networks as well as the challenges in fighting product counterfeiting and piracy.
The threat of IPR infringements in the EU remains a main concern in many sectors including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and everyday products.
But counterfeit cases are also frequent in the food and beverage industry. The report states that in 2016, EUR 1.3 billion of revenue and taxes were directly lost annually to the member states of the EU through food and beverage IPR infringements, along with EUR 3 billion of lost sales to the EU economy, and job losses of about 23400. The report refers to the OPSON V operation in 2016, where over 5.5 million units of either counterfeit or substandard food and beverages were seized (we reported) and states that the methods of misuse are increasingly diverse.
There has been an increase of abusing labels certifying a non-conforming product as “organic”. Also the fraudulent use of geographical indication labels of protected products has been a subject of counterfeiting with the following goods being mostly affected: wine and spirits, cheese, meat, fruit, vegetables and cereals.
IPR crime continues to be one of the most lucrative criminal enterprises also in the food sector and the results of the report show that documents are often not trustworthy, neither are labels and this problem will certainly still be very relevant in the future.
Purchasers, distributors, retailers and consumers are therefore well-advised with scrutinizing the quality and labelled origin of products they buy and seek the support of analytical and independent measures for getting clear and reliable evidence on these parameters such as isotope analysis.
Source: “2017 Situation Report on Counterfeiting and Piracy in the European Union”, Europol, 22.06.2017