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Statistics on counterfeiting and piracy

The problem concerning the counterfeiting and pirating of original products has assumed global proportions. Due to the nature of such illegal activities - which are usually carried out in secret - exact figures on the extent of the problem are not available and are therefore based on estimates.

In 2016, the OECD estimated that the market for counterfeit and pirated goods could have a volume of up to USD 509 billion or almost 3.3% of world trade (only cross-border transactions without domestically manufactured and consumed goods and pirated digital products; source:  OECD, Trade in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods). The number of seizures of fake goods is also increasing worldwide. It can therefore be reasonably assumed that the volume is even larger today.

While estimates regarding the size of the problem of counterfeit medicines vary widely, trade in counterfeited pharmaceutical products, including medical devices and diagnostics, is extensive and affects both developing countries and industrial nations. According to the report of the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), fake medicines cost the EU pharmaceutical sector €10.2 billion each year, thus 4.4% of legitimate sales of pharmaceuticals are lost each year in the EU due to counterfeiting (EUIPO, The economic cost of IPR infringement in the pharmaceutical sector, 2016).

In 2017, EU customs officials seized over 31 million counterfeit articles at EU border crossings with a total value of more than 580 million euros. According to the studyIntellectual Property Rights intensive industries: Contribution to economic performance and employment in Europe about 39% of total economic activity in the EU (worth some €4.7 trillion annually) is generated by IPR-intensive industries, and approximately 26% of all employment in the EU (56 million jobs) is provided directly by these industries, while a further 9% of jobs in the EU stems indirectly from IPR-intensive industries. 96% of Europeans believe that Intellectual Property (IP) is important because it supports innovation and creativity by rewarding inventors, creators and artists for their work. However, a survey commissioned by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) shows that at individual level, an average of 34% of Europeans think that buying counterfeit goods can be justified to save money.

Current numbers reflecting the size of the phenomenon and the damage being suffered by Switzerland's job market are not available. However, the Federal Customs Administration publishes statistics on "Counterfeiting and Piracy" every year, which provide various figures on the interventions undertaken by the Swiss customs offices in the area of intellectual property law. Medicines that have been retained under the laws governing medicinal products are not included in these statistics. The statistics reflect the number of interventions but don’t make a statement about the actual number of seized products. One consignment may contain countless products, particularly for commercial goods, but for statistical purposes they appear as one intervention.

Statistics on counterfeiting and piracy from the Federal Customs Administration:

Statistics 2020

Statistics 2019

Statistics 2018

Statistics 2017

Statistics 2016

Statistics 2015

Statistics 2014

Statistics 2013

Statistics 2012


Statistics on counterfeiting and piracy from the European Union:

Facts and Figures from the EU