This week, the EUIPO and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development published an insightful report on the trade in counterfeit pharmaceutical products.  Eye-openingly, the report estimates the total value of counterfeit pharmaceuticals traded worldwide to be up to EUR 4.03 billion.  Counterfeit pharmaceuticals are of course particularly dangerous given the potential impact on the health of individuals taking them.  

Customs seizure data analysed in the report between 2014 and 2016 showed that counterfeit antibiotics, lifestyle drugs and painkillers were the most frequently encountered.  

According to the report, pharmaceutical counterfeits "are facilitated by the growth in small package shipments by parcel post or letter packets, which are more difficult for customs officers to detect" and key to counterfeiters' success is their ability "to package products in a way that mirrors genuine products" and "make the products resemble the originals".

The full report can be viewed at: 

Counterfeits are of course not only an issue in pharmaceuticals.  They present a threat to many other industries, including fashion, electrical equipment, perfumes and cosmetics and, unfortunately, an increase in the number of eCommerce sites, where counterfeit goods can be sold, aided by their increased visibility and promotion via social media, has helped counterfeit goods flourish.

Trade mark owners can utilise a number of tools in the fight against counterfeits, including, for example:

1. monitoring social media sites as well as online and offline marketplaces for unauthorised goods;

2. making use of take-down procedures, where possible; and

3. recording trade mark registrations with Customs administrations around the world, where possible.

We are well placed to help you tackle counterfeits.  If you would like to discuss the tools available, then please do not hesitate to contact your usual advisor.