Innovative small and medium-sized companies may breathe a sigh of relief: The EU-commission is set to take severe measures against counterfeiting. The unauthorized copying of proprietary articles within the EU will be fined with amounts ranging from 100.000 to 300.000 Euro or imprisonment of up to 4 years. According to a verdict of the European Court of Justice the Union has the right to take an active part in the determination of the degree of penalty, if European law is violated. Some background information on this more severe legislation: Each year pirate copying causes damage of more than 300 billion Euro. Approximately ten percent of the products traded on the world market are counterfeits.
Since 1998 the volume of pirate copies confiscated at the external borders of the EU has multiplied by ten. 100 million forgeries are currently seized each year. The number of raids carried out by the customs authorities had to be doubled to 22.000 between 2003 and 2004. In particular counterfeiting of food and drinking products causing safety and health risks has risen by 200 percent to 4.5 million since 2003. In the meantime housewares have come to be forged more often than luxury goods. At the same time the quality of the counterfeits has improved to a degree such that a distinction between original and copy is possible only by taking recourse to the knowledge of experts.
One reason for this enormous increase is the formation of an entire copying industry. Not only does this lead to higher profits, but it also creates new possibilities of money laundering. That is why the EU is strongly advocating more severe penalties. Further statistical information is ready for Download.