On February 11 and 12, 2016, UNIFAB (Union des Fabricants) held its 21st European Intellectual Property Forum in the Pavillon Dauphine in Paris, France. INTA’s Anticounterfeiting Manager, Maysa Razavi, represented the Association at the event, which focused on international counterfeiting issues, looking at Europe and France in particular. About 250 people—mostly European brand owners—were in attendance.
The theme of the event was the Dark Side of Intellectual Property Infringements and How to Awake the Full Force of this Right. The first day’s proceedings opened with Christian Peugeot, Chairman of UNIFAB, who highlighted UNIFAB’s recently released report on the link between counterfeiting and terrorism. Many of the French government officials that acted as presenters in the event acknowledged that counterfeiting was linked to the assailants in the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. French customs officers noted that one Charlie Hedbo terrorist had received counterfeit shoes in the mail, but they did not think that was a direct link of counterfeiting and terrorism. Anti-terrorism legislation is being evaluated at the French and EU level.
The UNIFAB report entitled “Counterfeiting & Terrorism” was released in January 2016. The report states that the illicit trade of counterfeiting generates more revenue than the drug and prostitution trades combined. Even with the European counterfeiting trade at nearly 43 billion euros per year and drug trafficking at 28 billion euros per year, customs does not have the power to seize counterfeits in many ports, though they always have the authority to seize drugs. Organized crime and terrorists use counterfeits as a method to generate revenue, as counterfeits can garner high profits with low risks of jail time. The report looks at how terrorists use the counterfeiting trade to launder money.
UNIFAB was created by a group of pharmaceutical manufacturers at the end of the nineteenth century when they realized that their products were being counterfeited in Germany. This French organization aims to increase public awareness, to inform and support companies, businesses, and professionals, and to lobby for change and cooperation with public authorities. For more information, please visit their website: http://www.unifab.com/
For more information on anticounterfeiting activities in France or internationally, please contact INTA Anticounterfeiting Manager Maysa Razavi at firstname.lastname@example.org.