I’ve been waiting over two years for this.
Since the end of 2004, I’ve had a close interest in counterfeiting statistics,
and eventually I wrote a long piece in June 2005 saying that all
counterfeiting statistics are bullshit. Towards the end of that piece, I
held out some hope that there might, at some point, be some more reliable figures
than the pulled-out-of-thin-air numbers commonly bandied around by people like
the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition and the Anti Counterfeiting
The OECD, it is rumoured, may or may not be embarking on a survey trying
to quantify the effects of counterfeiting. But if it does, and the numbers
bear any relation to reality, they’re hardly going to be trumpeted by groups
such as the IACC and the ACG.
Well, it turns out that the rumor was true:
International trade losses due to product counterfeiting and piracy are much
lower than estimated by business lobby groups, according to the most detailed
global study to date…
Business groups such as the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce
fear the report’s publication could undermine momentum on tackling IPR
abuses. Guy Sebban, ICC secretary general, said “up to $1,000bn in international
trade was lost annually” to piracy and counterfeiting. The OECD figure
was “an under-estimate”, he added.
Jeff Hardy, co-ordinator of Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy,
an alliance of multinational companies including Microsoft and Nike, said:
“Business is definitely not exaggerating the scale of the problem.”
I haven’t seen the report, and I can’t wait to read it. According to the FT,
the OECD is pegging global losses due to counterfeiting at "up to $200
billion" – a number which I think is still a massive overestimate,
although it’s obviously much lower than Sebban’s $1 trillion. Apparently the
report has been tinkered with by the business lobby:
OECD officials have acknowledged the report is “politically sensitive”,
according to people familiar with the draft. Mr Hardy said his group had called
for changes, which were subsequently made.
All the same, I’m very happy that finally a substantive report on this issue
has been written. Once I get my hands on a copy, I promise to take a close look
at how it arrives at its numbers.
(HT: Prerna Mankad)