11 May


PONS IP, a global consulting firm specialized in intellectual property, together with the National Association for the Defense of Trademarks (ANDEMA), have held a meeting at Fundación PONS to bring together representatives from the public and private sectors to analyze the consequences brought about by the growing phenomenon of counterfeits in the technology sector and to promote collaboration in the effective defense of intellectual property rights against this other "pandemic".

According to a recent study by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), counterfeits accounted for 6.8% of EU imports worth 121 billion euros in 2021. Moreover, the technology sector, which includes all kinds of machinery and electronic components, was already the fifth product category between 2017 and 2019 with the highest percentage of seizures detected by the Customs Authorities of the Union's member countries - 10% - both regarding the volume seized and the equivalent value of such counterfeit. In practical terms, this means that one out of every 10 products seized in the European Union is already from the technology sector, a phenomenon with an upward trend in the future, according to the report.

In this context, Gerard Guiu Ribé, ANDEMA's General Manager and meeting moderator, pointed out that the quality and authenticity of technological products "are very important factors to consider during the purchasing process". "Technological products are nowadays present in our day-to-day life, but also in airlines, hospitals, schools and even public administrations; all network systems, database access and voice and video communications are handled by these products. Therefore, a counterfeit product in any of these cases can have a major impact on the health of citizens but also on the national security of a country," concluded ANDEMA's top representative. 

In order to minimize the impact of this risk, fight against counterfeits and highlight the role of Intellectual Property in preventing this type of infringement, Magdalena Jakubicz, Manager of Cisco Brand Protection for EMEAR and India, recommended that the technology sector "must start by understanding the problem". Thus, at Cisco Brand Protection we are committed to educating our business partners, authorities and end customers on the importance of identifying and purchasing genuine and authorized products, as well as making them aware of the risks associated with counterfeits and the impact they have not only on a particular business but also on development, innovation, the economy and social welfare in general".

The experience of customs authorities in Spain in the technology sector was also one of the main topics discussed along with the keys to successful collaboration between public bodies, businesses and companies in the IP sector to achieve tangible results in the fight against counterfeits. In this regard, Nerea Rodriguez, Deputy Director General of Customs Management at the Spanish Tax Agency, pointed out that "the change in the European VAT regulations on ecommerce has made it easier to analyze risks and identify potential counterfeits. However, Customs is calling for more proactivity and information from right holders on their products and their international distribution networks to detect infringements of intellectual property rights more effectively. Today, Customs operates along two lines of action, one in response to a request for intervention and the other ex officio. Ex officio, 44% of the goods seized ex officio in the EU are released due to lack of response from the right holders, so we have a clear margin for improvement," concluded the representative of the Spanish Tax Agency. 

For her part, Carmen González Candela, Trademark and Brand Intelligence Manager at PONS IP, focused on the cross-cutting nature of the threat. "Counterfeiting and piracy threaten virtually all industrial sectors. If we bear in mind that some of the purposes for technological products may be related to health, safety or the environment, the risk for consumers is more than obvious," said the PONS IP representative. 

However, as González Candela pointed out, "just as counterfeiters take advantage of technology and the online environment for their criminal activities, trademark holders today also have technological solutions to monitor and locate these counterfeits and act against them in real time". The PONS IP lawyer concluded that "even if we also have technology as an ally, dialogue and cooperation among companies, technology platforms, intermediaries and law enforcement and customs authorities will continue to be essential to put an end to the problem".