Realistic Counterfeiting Numbers Emerge

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)

This entry was posted in statistics. Bookmark the permalink.