Europe: European Commission against product piracy
The fight against product piracy is one of the most pressing problems affecting the mechanical engineering industry. The industry therefore welcomes the latest package of measures by the European Commission (EC), which calls for strict consistency in the protection of intellectual property rights across all member states. VDMA observes, however, that by far the greatest proportion of product and brand piracy cases originates outside the EU – and Europe must exercise greater pressure on its trading partners in this matter.
Addressing the concern
“The fact that the Commission is turning its attention to the problem of product piracy right now is a positive sign,” says Holger Kunze, head of the VDMA European Office. “Digitalisation creates new challenges for mechanical engineers in protecting their commercial secrets. It is important for Europe to present a united front in dealing with this problem, and that the rules on the protection of intellectual property are applied in a way that is predictable throughout all EU member states. But the EU must understand that many countries engage in plagiarism are outside Europe. Another task for the EU is to stem the tide of copyright violations through both cooperation with and political pressure on non-EU countries, in Asia for example.”
The German mechanical engineering industry suffers massive losses every year as a result of product piracy – the damage was estimated at EUR 7.3 billion in 2015 alone. According to a VDMA study in 2016, 70 per cent of companies are affected by product or brand piracy, and 83 per cent of the companies that suffered losses referred to China as the source of the pirated goods. The European Commission itself assumes that five per cent of all goods imported into the EU are counterfeit or pirated.