Director General of the Anti-Counterfeit Group, Phil Lewis reflects that during the height of the pandemic, criminal networks made huge profits from counterfeiting and used the money to feed other forms of criminal activity.
The latest Intellectual Property Crime Threat Assessment, produced by Europol and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), backs this up, revealing that the distribution of counterfeit goods thrived during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IP Crime Threat Assessment by Europol and the EUIPO highlight huge increases of imported healthcare products from China, which grew by 900% in the second quarter of 2020 compared to 2019 and criminals exploited this momentum. The pandemic also accelerated e-commerce and between 2018 and 2020 online retail sales increased by 41%. According to the report counterfeit and pirated goods in the EU now have an estimated value of a staggering 119 billion Euros, representing up to 5.8 % of all imports.
On the day of the publication of the Anti-Counterfeit Group’s (ACG) Annual Report, Mr Lewis confirms that the pandemic restrictions resulted in a huge shift towards online shopping. Transnational criminals were quick to realise the new opportunities and swiftly intensified the manufacture and production of fakes to meet growing demand from consumers who became ever more confident buying online. Unfortunately, many of these purchases were found to be dangerous fake products, which increasingly threaten the health and safety of families and businesses across the world.
He adds that, “Despite the obvious threats, restrictions, and interruptions, ACG and its partners have worked even more diligently to combat the dangers, to help protect our members and society in general.”
Highlights of the report show that the ACG has been productive in 2021. We have been involved in 52 raid actions, seizing over 11 million pounds worth of goods. Plus we have generated 56 global and stakeholder partnerships including companies like Facebook and Amazon, where we have taken down thousands of fake websites.
In 2022 and beyond ACG will continue to protect and guard our precious innovative and creative assets that are so vital for our economic recovery and continued prosperity.
For more information on how the Anti-Counterfeiting Group has been helping to combat counterfeiting crime take a look at the ACG annual report here.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) represents the voice of business in shaping an effective deterrent to counterfeiting in the UK. We help to steer effective policy, promote evidenced based actions, empower multi-agency partnerships and strengthen international collaboration. We have been working since 1980 to raise awareness of this serious organised crime.