A Handbook of Contemporary Research
Edited by Christophe Geiger
Chapter 5: From sweatshops to organized crime: the new face of counterfeiting
From the imitation of Gallo-Roman seals on the neck of supposedly Campania wine amphoras to copies of artwork (piracy), mobile phones, cough syrups, pacemakers, food or cigarettes – 8000 years of history contemplate us. If counterfeiting is as old as the world, it has industrialized, globalized and criminalized in favour of globalization. Counterfeiting, a criminal market still poorly estimated, remains too often considered, like money laundering, as a victimless crime. Nothing is further from the truth. An evolving phenomenon invested in by organized crime (as well as terrorism funding channels), counterfeiting kills. Whether food, alcohol, medicines, car and aircraft spare parts, this criminal market exceeds mere intellectual property rights (IPR) issues to concern safety and public health and beyond, to become a genuine security threat. Thus, the international response appears to be gradually shifting from one concerning IPR to a broader public health approach (Council of Europe Medicrime Convention). Part of a global and comprehensive approach in the fight against the phenomenon requires an awareness of the magnitude of this criminal market, both in its implications and in its consequences. It also calls, on the eve of the ACTA agreement (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement), for a more eff ective enforcement of IPRs.
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