World Anti-Counterfeiting Day on 24th June is being marked this year with a series of events across the globe and an awards presentation.
Counterfeiting is a global problem that simultaneously attacks legitimate businesses, threatens the livelihoods of honest worker and contributes to the criminal profits of organised criminal gangs. The seemingly benign purchase of a fake handbag or mobile phone charger is funding the activities of criminals in the UK and overseas and the illicit trafficking of counterfeit goods is often linked to other serious crimes. Europol has warned that counterfeiting is an increasingly attractive avenue for organised crime to diversify their product range”.
Evidence suggests that criminal networks use similar routes and modus operandi to move counterfeit goods as they do to smuggle drugs, firearms and people. Proceeds from other crimes also feed into the production and distribution of counterfeit goods. There have been reports of authorities uncovering operations where proceeds from drug trafficking were channelled into counterfeiting, and where profits from the sale of counterfeit goods were used to further criminal’s other illicit operations .
Counterfeiting is a hugely profitable business, with criminals relying on the continued high demand for cheap goods coupled with low production costs. By nature of this being an illicit business, the extent of counterfeiting is difficult to calculate and estimations can vary
significantly. One widely used figure from the OECD places the value of counterfeiting in the region of $250 billion per year. This figure, however, includes neither domestically produced and consumed counterfeit products nor the significant volume of pirated digital products being distributed via the Internet which would lead the figure of worldwide counterfeiting to be “several hundred billion dollars more”. 
This might all seem gloomy but there is positive action being taken to tackle this immense problem. In the UK the Anti-Counterfeiting Group is marking World Anti-Counterfeiting Day with the presentation of a specific “Dedication to Anti-Counterfeiting” award. The award will be made to Heathrow Border Force officers, who work tirelessly to remove counterfeit goods from circulation.
Brand and rights holders working together with trading standards, police and other agencies can and do deliver enforcement activity that stifles the supply of counterfeit goods and also brings to justice those involved in criminal activity at a local and national level. Partnership working is often the most effective strategy that makes best use of resources and delivers tangible results for local communities by reducing crime and supporting local businesses, encouraging growth and job creation.
The Alliance and its members recognise the challenges faced by trading standards officers across the country and we will continue to support those fighting to maintain and deliver effective enforcement. We are sending the message at a political level that trading standards are a vital part of the enforcement landscape and we want to work with CTSI and Government to help ensure that IP enforcement is not eroded further.
Eddy Leviten, Director General, Alliance for Intellectual Property