The European Union (EU) countries lose billions of euros every year from the sale of counterfeit goods. Not only national budgets suffer losses, but also labor market – in the last year 2500 jobs were lost in Latvia. In order to inform the public about intellectual property rights violations and the following harm to the economy, employment and human health it may entail, the Patent Office of the Republic of Latvia has launched a campaign “FAKE REALITY”.
At the opening of the press conference, Minister of Justice Mr. Dzintars Rasnačs said: “It is our joint effort to actively educate and inform our citizens about the protection of industrial property rights. Everyday consumers find it difficult to detect counterfeits.” The Minister welcomed the campaign launched by the Patent Office, the State Police of Latvia, and the State Revenue Service (SRS) National Customs Board and emphasized the need to educate society to distinguish counterfeits from original products. “People should also be aware of the health and safety risks involved in purchasing counterfeit goods. Counterfeits also distorts fair competition in the market and impedes overall economic development,” said Mrs. Rasnačs.
The director of the Latvian Patent Office Mr. Sandris Laganovskis emphasized, “Counterfeits undermine brand reputation and consumers lose their confidence in the brand. Today at the Riga International Airport, we will address more than 5,000 passengers and will draw their attention to be careful and pay attention whether their chosen product is real or fake. As the Nordic and UK countries experience shows, Europeans more often buy counterfeits while traveling.”
70% of EU citizens believe that no justification for the purchase of counterfeits is allowed. 63% say they would stop buying counterfeits if there were good alternatives. At the same time, 35% admit that they are not able to determine if the product is genuine or counterfeit.
Industries with a high prevalence of illegal goods: clothing and footwear, cosmetics, alcohol, medicine, jewelry and watches. In Latvia, counterfeit goods mainly inflate through online stores, but they are also available in stores and in the market. In the EU, most fakes inflate through China, Benin, Hong Kong, Montenegro, Turkey, India, Mexico and Malaysia. Fake mobile phones, accessories and computers are most commonly coming from China and Hong Kong, from Turkey – fake clothes, but from India – medicine.
Recent data from the European Commission indicated that the customs authorities have seized more than 41 million counterfeit goods in 2016, with a total value over 670 million EUR. Everyday products that have been faked are even dangerous for health and safety, such as food, beverages, medicine, toys, household electrical appliances and they account for more than a third of all intercepted goods.
The SRS National Customs Board`s senior expert on Risk Management Mr. Egīls Misītis commenting the situation in Latvia said: “Protection of intellectual property rights is one of the priorities of the EU, including the Latvian customs authorities, because counterfeits cause damage to both intellectual property holders, thus hindering the development of the economy, and in particular the development of new and innovative products, as well as consumers who receive poor quality and dangerous goods. In recent years, sales are mostly done through the Internet; therefore, most often-counterfeit goods are detected by customs directly in postal and courier shipments. Special attention is paid to potentially dangerous goods such as medicine, electric appliances, spare parts and cosmetics. It is a risk to buy a product on the Internet, because sellers in these cases have an advantage to remain anonymous and not take responsibility for the products sold.”
Lai informētu sabiedrību par intelektuālā īpašuma tiesību pārkāpumiem un to radīto kaitējumu ne tikai valsts ekonomikai un nodarbinātībai, bet arī cilvēka veselībai, Patentu valde ir uzsākusi kampaņu “Viltotā realitāte”.