Be honest - Have you ever bought counterfeit goods or illegally consumed digital content?

Be honest - Have you ever bought counterfeit goods or illegally consumed digital content?

On 12 June 2023, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) published an interesting article on counterfeits and illegal electronic content. As an IP boutique specializing in non-technical intellectual property rights, we come across counterfeits all the time and we found the study very interesting and would like to share some of its main findings with you.

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The EUIPO recently conducted a consumer study on „European Citizens and Intellectual Property: Perception, Awareness and Behaviour“ by interviewing over 25,000 consumers of all ages and across all EU member states. The full document can be found here.

The study found that European consumers are becoming increasingly wary of counterfeits and electronic content from illegal sources. They admitted to being conscious of the risks that can arise from buying and using such products:

  • About 83 % deemed buying counterfeits as supporting unethical behavior;
  • About 82 % agreed that accessing digital content illegally could lead to scams and exposure to inappropriate content for minors;
  • About 80 % of the interviewed believed that criminal organizations were behind counterfeit products and acknowledged that such purchases harm businesses and employment;
  • About 66 % recognized the potential threats to health, safety, and the environment.

While these numbers are quite high and seem to show that the awareness raising initiatives by various stakeholders over the past years have been successful, the study also revealed that there is still work to do.

While consumers are growing wary of counterfeits, price remains a deciding factor in purchasing decisions. 43 % of the interviewed said that a more affordable price for original products was the top reason for them to refrain from buying counterfeit products, followed by the risk of poor quality (27 %), safety concerns (25 %), and legal repercussions (21 %).

On average, one in three surveyed consumers (31 %) found it acceptable to buy counterfeit products if the price of the genuine product was “too high”. Among consumers aged 15-24, this figure rose up to 50 %. This means, every other young consumer finds it acceptable to – intentionally – buy fake products or use illegal digital content.

While this might be economically understandable from an (especially young) consumer’s point of view, the risks remain and they are real. Overall, the study shows that the awareness raising efforts need to continue and we look forward to reading the next EUIPO IP Perception Study to see how public awareness of counterfeit products will have changed.

For further information on tackling fakes and counterfeits, see our blog article of 25 April 2023 at summarizing the European Union’s Strategy Plan to combat product piracy over the next years.

For questions regarding counterfeit products or if you are interested in helping to raise consumer awareness on fakes, you are welcome to contact us by phone at 089 55 879 870 or by email at