Piracy. A Growing Global Problem
One of the most significant issues faced by a brand owner is counterfeit or piracy. In fact, today’s global financial system bears the staggering statistic of $650 billion worth of goods bought and sold through the black market every year – medicine, cosmetics, fashion accessories, toys and electronic goods being just the tip of this disastrous iceberg. A company risks a great deal more than just a few dollars if they don’t take immediate steps to control this ever-present menace.
Not surprisingly, our combined economies account for huge losses related to counterfeit trading activities, an illegal industry that has expanded in profit by over 400% since the late ‘90s. Aside from the obvious illegality, most consumers have little or no knowledge about the broader socioeconomic implications of buying counterfeit products: unemployment, curbing budgets allocated for local communities, even something as extreme as providing funding for terrorism. The United States economy estimates an annual loss of $200 billion to counterfeit commodities and over 7 million domestic jobs according to an IACC survey. A report by the European Union charts a frightening increase in the counterfeit trade as of July 2012, with China as the primary gateway through which pirated goods are being shipped.
While figures such as these are self-explanatory, many aspects of this global problem are not. Recognising whether or not the commodities that you regularly purchase are genuine is an increasingly difficult task, and one must take the time to become familiar with the ways of identifying a pirated product.
It’s important to learn the facts and figures on counterfeit products within specific industries, giving rise to a broader and more effective understanding of piracy and its key problems:
- low political priority given to counterfeit control issues
- low convictions and poor punishment rates for those convicted of piracy
- difficulty in policing the multiple stages of a single piracy transaction
- poor coordination between stakeholders, especially across trade borders
- an increase in sophisticated piracy worldwide, made easier by all the above