How to do with the fake goods in global trade?
Imports of counterfeit and pirated goods are worth nearly half a trillion dollars a year, or around 2.5 percent of global imports, with US, Italian and French brands the hardest hit and many of the proceeds going to organized crime, according to a new report published Monday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the EU's Intellectual Property Office.
The report puts the value of imported fake goods worldwide at $461 billion in 2013, compared with total imports in world trade of $17.9 trillion.
In a previous 2008 OECD study, fake goods accounted for up to 1.9 percent of global imports.
"The findings of this new report contradict the image that counterfeiters only hurt big companies and luxury goods manufacturers. They take advantage of our trust in trademarks and brand names to undermine economies and endanger lives," said OECD Deputy Secretary-General Doug Frantz, launching the report with EUIPO executive director Antonio Campinos.
Fake products crop up in everything from handbags and perfumes to machine parts and chemicals. Footwear is the most-copied item though trademarks are infringed even on strawberries and bananas. Counterfeiting also produces knockoffs that endanger lives -- auto parts that fail, pharmaceuticals that make people sick, toys that harm children, baby formula that provides no nourishment and medical instruments that deliver false readings.
The top countries whose companies had their intellectual property rights infringed in the 2011-13 seizures were the United States, whose brands or patents were affected by 20 percent of the knock-offs, then Italy with 15 percent, and France and Switzerland with 12 percent each. Japan and Germany stood at 8 percent each while China was affected by 1 percent.
Postal parcels are the top method of shipping bogus goods, accounting for 62 percent of seizures over 2011-13, reflecting the growing importance of online commerce in international trade.
Those fake goods keeps more than half of humanity clothed and entertained. Economic reality dictates buying preference.