World trade in counterfeits put at $1 trillion a year

Illicit trade in counterfeit goods and piracy of intellectual property not only cost global economies more than $1 trillion each year and put more than two million jobs at risk but threaten the lives, health and safety of consumers worldwide, a United Nations-backed meeting was told Wednesday.

Over 800 delegates from intergovernmental organizations, governments, enforcement agencies and business from more than 100 countries convened in Paris to address the problem at the Sixth Global Congress on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy, hosted by France’s Industrial Property Office and chaired by the U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization.

The two-day meeting, also organized by the international police agency INTERPOL, and the World Customs Organization in cooperation with the global business community represented by the International Chamber of Commerce, will discuss a full spectrum of issues ranging from pirated patents to potentially lethal fake medicines.

“New research to be reported at the congress will show that the total impact of this illicit trade in fakes is staggering, with more than $1 trillion in annual losses to global economies, governments and consumers and potentially more than two million jobs at risk,” Jean-Guy Carrier said, calling on all to find new and creative solutions. He is secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce.

“Counterfeiting and piracy continue to generate massive economic and employment dislocations at a time when governments are most hard pressed to maintain economic stability and create jobs,” he stressed.

Highlighting the recent Operation Jupiter during which counterfeit goods worth more than $200 million were seized and nearly 1,000 people arrested, Ronald K. Noble, INTERPOL Secretary General, cited the benefits of combining public-private sector expertise.

“INTERPOL has steadily increased its efforts and resource commitment to combat counterfeiting and piracy producing tangible results worldwide, not least in protecting the public from potentially lethal fakes and counterfeits,” he said.

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