Posted on Monday 10 September 2018 by Cruickshank Intellectual Property

According to the Synthesis Report released in June by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) around €60billion is lost each year due to counterfeit products. In 2016 over 41 million products suspected of infringing Intellectual Property rights were stopped at EU external borders. This study is based on 5 years of research on the contribution of Intellectual Property to the EU economy and focuses on 13 sectors including cosmetics, clothing, footwear, toys, games, jewellery and watches. The report highlights the fact that almost any brand can potentially be counterfeited due to improved and advanced technologies and cheaper production methods available. While the scope of infringement was once geared towards more luxury and branded items, now electronic goods, cosmetic goods and pharmaceutical products are suffering the same fate. It is reported that fake medicines cost EU pharmaceutical industries over €10.2billion each year and lead to the loss of over 37,000 jobs. With these figures, concerns for health and safety increase as the availability of these medicines become widespread.

Intellectual Property Perceptions

Intellectual Property (IP) plays an essential role in protecting the rights of creators and inventors, however, the rise in counterfeiting creates economic damage to these IP owners and not only harms and weakens their innovation but results in a loss of revenue and jobs.  In an ‘IP Perception’ Study presented by the EUIPO last year, 97% of those surveyed believed that Intellectual Property is important in protecting the rights of inventors, while 78% believed buying counterfeit products had a negative effect on businesses and jobs. You can read more about these findings here.

Protecting your intellectual property rights

It is important that a company/business no matter how big or small fully utilise the options available when it comes to obtaining Intellectual Property protection and making it one of the most important parts of their business strategy. When it comes to seeking Intellectual Property protection, in particular trade marks, here at Cruickshank we often inform and advise our clients that there are three general categories of jurisdiction in which you should seek protection. They are, where sales of goods occur, where goods are manufactured and where infringement or counterfeits are expected. Seizure statistics reveal where counterfeiting occurs and what products are counterfeited. For example, over 50% of the goods seized at US customs in 2015 originated from China, while 35% were from Hong Kong. These statistics show that fashion apparel/accessories and personal care products were among the top categories for types of goods counterfeited.

In view of this, often it would be advised to file trademark application in China and Hong Kong. Equipped with trade mark registrations, the brand owners can not only take enforcement actions against infringers in those hotbed countries, but also record their marks with local customs agencies. This would be particularly helpful in China where the customs agency act against both exported and imported goods.

If you would like to know more about how you can protect your intellectual property or are concerned about a possible infringement issue, contact us and we will be happy to arrange a meeting with one of our team.