FAKES COST MORE! Global awareness campaign

CHINESE DRIVE-AWAY? They’re even copying Ferraris!

In his keynote address, EU President Manuel Barroso reinforced the EU’s position on counterfeiting, piracy and intellectual property theft.

Mr. Barroso promised that counterfeiting would be ‘high on the agenda’ at a forthcoming summit to be held in Beijing where he will reaffirm the EU’s positionon tackling the darker side of product manufacturing - including safety and security and the involvement, in some cases, of child labour. There was a glimmer of hope when he described a ‘sea change’ with the registration of IP rights in China having risen by 800% during the past year where, as a result of economic success and development the Chinese are now rushing to protect their own rights. The irony of this cannot escape the rest of the world when recent statistics indicate that 80% of the world’s counterfeit, pirated or copied goods emanate from China. Let’s hope the tide is turning but, at the moment, there is still a huge gap between compliance and unlawful manufacturing practices.

At a summit involving influencers from the Global IP landscape held in Brussels organised by The Authentics Foundation, there was a frighteningly realistic and impressive display of knock off products from an iconic fake Ferrari to mobile phone batteries which explode, from fake Vodka (where you don’t wake up from the hangover) to fake condoms. The consequences of their unlawful sale and often, unknown purchase, have dire results. In a hard-hitting message that fakes cost lives amidst reports of car parts made of saw dust, medicines which have killed over 200,000, fake bags and catwalk copies, many of which are being produced by children, 1000′s of infant deaths through fake baby formulae the drums started to roll for those that perpetrate copying.

No products escape the grasp of counterfeiters and the problem is increasing at an epidemic rate. The bottom line is that IP theft can costs lives and livelihoods and may threaten our global security if we look at the increasing evidence between counterfeiters, organised crime and terrorism. Despite efforts to improve custodial sentences, IP theft is still a soft crime though there are clear signals that the lobbying groups are at last getting their messages heard.

‘Global warming campaigners have succeeded in raising world awareness about the catastrophic affects to the planet if nothing is done. The world is taking notice.’ said Dids Macdonald ACID’s CEO, a delegate at the event, ‘In the 2008 Olympics, two thirds of the world’s attention will be focused on China, which has one of the world’s worst records on intellectual property theft. Within 4 years two thirds of the world’s population will focus on London’s Olympics and the UK, one of Europe’s many victims of IP crime. The irony cannot escape IP owners and stakeholders. London has initiated a campaign for a FAKE FREE OLYMPICS, which it hopes will have a long lasting legacy. It is time to galvanize world leaders with European Union backing to support the UK’s opportunity on behalf of the world to paint the real pictures behind IP theft.’

Whilst much of the blame can be laid at China’s door, we also have to look in our back yard at those who are creating the demand. In the case of ACID members whose products are copied, the culprits can be found often within retail buying who are fuelling illegal copying by free riding on the back of others’ intellectual property. By instructing alternative Chinese manufacturers to produce look alikes (where there is no IP ownership or licence to market) some retailers who adopt this strategy, not only seek a fast track to market without their own design, research and development costs but they also run the increasing risk of legal challenge. Designers and manufacturers are, thankfully, becoming much more IP savvy as a result of raised awareness within the industry.

The 2012 procurement groups, of the Olympic Games ODA and LOCOG, have also promised a UK supply only for goods and services. ACID will soon be putting an IP support package together for those who wishing to respond to the 75,000+ supply chain opportunities and there is an excellent business development tool available on the London 2010 website.

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