Europol and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) have recently jointly published an Intellectual Property Crime Threat Assessment. This report explores piracy and counterfeiting and is based on data from across the EU as well as Europol’s operational information.
The report concludes that piracy and counterfeiting continue to pose a serious threat to the health and wellbeing of consumers and to the European economy. In particular, the data shows that imports of counterfeit and pirated goods reached EUR 119 billion in 2019, representing 5.8% of all goods entering the EU. The EUIPO summary notes that the distribution of counterfeit and pirated goods, unfortunately, increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Worryingly, an increasing number of these goods are counterfeit medicines, food items, cosmetics and toys.
The report notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has produced new business opportunities for the distribution of counterfeit and substandard goods, and also highlights that while most counterfeit goods distributed in the EU are produced outside the EU, there are indications that production of counterfeit and substandard goods increasingly takes place within the EU.
In addition, according to the report the data shows that websites illegally distributing audio-visual content are hosted on servers across Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The criminals involved are adept at using advanced technical countermeasures. Pirates exploit new technologies to conceal digital traces and use proxy services to create resilient hosting networks. The online presence during the COVID-19 pandemic led to an increased offer of high-quality streaming devices and a variety of illicit content offers.