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Counterfeit tech products on the rise

30 March 2017

The OECD has just published a report entitled “Trade in Counterfeit ICT Goods” which estimates that 6.5% of the global trade in information and communication technologies (ICT) equipment is counterfeit.

This figure is significantly greater than the level of 2.5% for counterfeit goods for all goods traded globally. Based on customs seizure data the report estimates that in 2013 the trade in counterfeit ICT equipment was valued at $143 billion

Our increasingly reliance on ICT and growing demand for devices and equipment has made these products very attractive to counterfeiters. This is coupled with the inherent trust that many consumers have in well-known ICT and tech brands. Almost 25% of video games consoles and almost 20% of mobile telephones shipped internationally are fake. Accessories such as smartphone batteries and chargers are also regularly counterfeited. As well as the economic damage to IP rights holders such fake goods pose a significant risk to the health and safety of potential users. Rather worryingly, the report describes that two thirds of fake ICT products are shipped by express and postal services, in small quantities, often with counterfeit labels and packaging as well, which significantly hampers the ability to screen and identify the counterfeit productions.

Whilst the challenge of combatting fake tech products is increasing, some originators are developing novel tech to defeat the counterfeiters, such as network solutions to disable counterfeit smartphones. The report has called for greater deterrent penalties for counterfeiters and more research on the role of e-commerce in counterfeit ICT trade.

A copy of the full report is available here.

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