UN Office On Drugs And Crime Launches Anti-Counterfeit Campaign Aimed At Organised Crime 14/01/2014 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 2 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) today launched a major awareness-raising campaign against trafficking in counterfeit goods, which it said is a major revenue source for organised crime worldwide: $250 billion per year. “The illicit trafficking and sale of counterfeit goods provides criminals with a significant source of income and facilitates the laundering of other illicit proceeds,” UNODC said in a release. And, it said, the revenues can be used to make more counterfeit products. The campaign, entitled “Don’t Buy Into Organized Crime,” is aimed at educating consumers not to buy fake goods that support organised crime and the distribution of goods that put consumers themselves at risk. Details on the problem and the campaign are provided in a “focus sheet” on the campaign website. Counterfeit products are often faulty and ineffective and can lead to injury, the Vienna-based organisation said, mentioning examples of tires, airbags, airplane parts, electronic goods, baby formula and toys. But despite the alarm mentioned in the press release, the focus sheet shows that the vast majority of counterfeits are clothing, cosmetics, jewelry and watches and other items that do not pose health risks. It also mentions digital piracy of films, games and other products. UNODC also extensively describes problems with fraudulent medicines, which it said is “big business,” particularly emanating from East Asia and the Pacific. The campaign materials take pains to state that counterfeiting can affect both brand name and generic medicines. “All kinds of medicines – both branded and generic – can be made fraudulently, ranging from ordinary painkillers and antihistamines, to “lifestyle” medicines, such as those taken for weight loss and sexual dysfunction, to life-saving medicines including those for the treatment of cancer and heart disease,” the focus sheet says. It notes that profit margins can be higher for criminals on the sale of these types of drugs than the sale of illicit drugs like heroin, cocaine or opium. Other concerns related to counterfeiting include labour exploitation and migrant smuggling, UNODC said. Low-paid workers face safety and security concerns, with few benefits, and migrants are coerced into selling counterfeit goods to pay off their debts to smugglers. Counterfeiting also poses an environmental risk as production uses toxic materials with no regulation. Crime organisations have found counterfeiting to be highly lucrative, UNODC said. “In comparison to other crimes such as drug trafficking, the production and distribution of counterfeit goods present a low-risk/high-profit opportunity for criminals,” UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said. “Counterfeiting feeds money laundering activities and encourages corruption. There is also evidence of some involvement or overlap with drug trafficking and other serious crimes.” The campaign is part of a larger awareness-raising initiative on transnational organized crime which UNODC launched in mid-2012 in order to raise awareness about organised crime and the UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime, Alun Jones, chief of communication and advocacy in the UNODC Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, told Intellectual Property Watch. The first campaign looked at a range of issues, including illicit drugs, human trafficking, migrant smuggling, wildlife crime and counterfeiting. “This more specific awareness raising initiative on counterfeit is the latest addition in a series of more focused awareness raising activities on organised crime, with others to follow for example in 2014 on wildlife trafficking,” Jones said. The new counterfeiting campaign will be publicised for the next 4-6 months in various forms and in a similar way to UNODC’s previous campaign on organised crime will be broadcast on a good number of international and national TV stations to raise awareness to the general public, he said. Intellectual Property Issues UNODC’s campaign appears to sidestep the debate taking place in other international fora over use of the term “counterfeit,” which under World Trade Organization rules refers to a trademark violation. “In developing the campaign we have decided to focus on the threats posed by organised crime to society without entering the IP debate which has its place in the appropriate fora,” Jones said. “This campaign focuses on what unites the vast majority of governments across the world which is the fight against organised crime in all its forms which includes money laundering and illicit proceeds, illicit trafficking and other related crimes.” “The illicit trafficking of counterfeit goods can create other collateral damage in the form of administrative and financial crimes such as tax evasion, corruption and other forms of fraud,” he added. “The protection of the public in terms of safety has also been another serious consideration in the development of the campaign with consumers often left vulnerable when products escape national checks and controls,” said Jones. “Social and other ethical issues involved in the production of counterfeit are also be brought to the attention of the public through the campaign.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related William New may be reached at email@example.com."UN Office On Drugs And Crime Launches Anti-Counterfeit Campaign Aimed At Organised Crime" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.