The debates on intellectual property rights (IPRs) have been largely dominated in the last five years by multiple initiatives to fight counterfeiting. The ambiguity of this concept and the claims of enormous economic losses – despite the lack of reliable information on the dimension of the problem – have been used to promote the adoption of a wide set of measures for the protection and enforcement of IPRs. As examined below, those measures go well beyond, in many cases, what would be strictly necessary to curb counterfeiting as defined in the context of the World Trade Organization. The activism deployed by some business groups and developed country governments in the area of counterfeiting has raised growing concerns in developing countries. Some of them have been induced to adopt broad anti-counterfeiting legislation that introduces TRIPS-plus standards and alters the balance between the rights of title-holders, on the one hand, and competitors, consumers and the public at large, on the other. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study ‘The Economic Impact of Counterfeiting and Piracy’ has been frequently cited as an authoritative source on the dimension and negative impact of counterfeiting. This study provides a good example of the expansive understanding attributed to the concept of ‘counterfeiting’ and ‘piracy’ normally used in the context of copyright. In accordance with this study ‘counterfeiting’ and ‘piracy’:
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