The recent announcement that China was to set up a technical support system to help reduce IP infringement may, on the face of it, seem little more than lip service from a country responsible for 63% of counterfeit goods in the USA (according to the OECD). However, China appears to be taking the issue of IP infringement more seriously.
China gets tough
From 1st January 2019 e-commerce giants such as Alibaba will be responsible for counterfeit goods sold on their sites, whether these are sold by the e-commerce platform directly or not. In a further show of strength, Lego has won a court case against Lepin, a Chinese manufacturer of fake Lego sets. Lepin will be fined £1.7 million with no appeal.
Recently, our CEO, Simon Webster, wrote a blog post about the extraordinary actions Burberry had taken to protect its brand from counterfeiting. It seems that, as well as actions from brands, there has also been a significant step up by governments to address these issues.
Global government action
Dubai authorities have seized more than half a billion dollars’ worth of counterfeit goods in an attempt to enhance the Emirate’s status as a fashion capital of the Middle East. Authorities believe the availability of plentiful fake goods will not encourage shoppers to spend time in the prestigious Dubai Mall shopping centre.
A recent announcement in Kenya has seen the UK government and Kenyan anti-counterfeiting agency join forces to digitise operations and services, creating a more effective operation in the country. Meanwhile Nigeria’s Food & Drug administration agency was reported to have destroyed fake pharmaceuticals worth $1.2 million that had been seized from manufacturers and importers. In the same week it was reported the Thai army destroyed more than two million counterfeit items worth almost $400 million.
A changing global tide
Combined these actions demonstrate how the charge against counterfeit goods is maturing across the globe. Where countries may once have turned a blind eye to counterfeiting, now the ramifications of fake goods are well established. In an increasingly competitive global economy, countries are recognising that counterfeiting can have a significantly detrimental impact on an economy.
Any governmental support is good news for the global brands leading the charge against counterfeiting, but many will particularly welcome the efforts being made by governments in developing economies. Historically these markets were primary targets for counterfeiters, particularly if these countries were also tourist destinations. As the emerging economies mature, a richer, more consumerist middle-class is emerging. This provides huge new audiences for traditional luxury brands, which will be encouraged by legislation and actions to help them protect their trademarks and designs.