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Threefold increase: Value of seized counterfeit goods on the rise

The value of seized counterfeit goods in Denmark has tripled between 2014 and 2016, and the trend is expected to continue. A new Danish task force is taking up the fight against illegal copies.
Even if a Danish company wins a civil lawsuit over counterfeiting of their product, infringement of their trademark or copyright, they are still liable for a portion of the costs.

Publiceret: 05.04.2018
Af Karen Witt Olsen mail

Since 2010, the number of Danish lawsuits over counterfeit products has more than doubled, while the value of seized goods has tripled between 2014 and 2016, shows data from the EU Commission and the Danish Customs and Tax Administration, which expects the increase to continue. This view is shared by intellectual property attorney Sture Rygaard at law firm Plesner, which currently has nearly 50 cases regarding counterfeit goods.


“Today, everything that can be copied is copied. The problem in Denmark is that we have a reversed burden of proof. The violated company must not only demonstrate that it has been subject to counterfeiting, but also that it has incurred a loss—and the size of that loss—which is impossible, of course. This is unlike the US, for example, where it is the counterfeiters who must present figures for how much they have made on the copies,” he says.

Companies must pay

Even if a Danish company wins a civil lawsuit over counterfeiting of their product, infringement of their trademark or copyright, they are still liable for a portion of the costs. According to Professor of Law at the University of Copenhagen Thomas Riis, it is therefore costly for companies to defend themselves against counterfeiters.

“It’s expensive. Companies must shell out even if they win the case. The burden of proof can be heavy for companies, and courts rarely accept a 1:1 loss, because they cannot be certain that a consumer would have purchased the original bag, chair or vase if he/she had to pay the much higher full price,” says Thomas Riis.

Global problem

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), counterfeit products constitute approximately 2.5 per cent of global trade, and in the EU alone, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) estimates that five per cent of all goods that enter the Union are counterfeits—worth nearly DKK 700 billion. 

Ultimately, counterfeit goods cost jobs and welfare, says Senior Consultant and Head of IP Rights at the Confederation of Danish Industry, Lars Holm Nielsen.

“Denmark’s raw material is its ability to invent and develop unique and safe products. When criminals copy a company’s products, they are stealing that raw material while also ignoring everything right from product safety and work environment to research and taxes.” 


Task force set up under fraud squad


On Kampmannsgade in Copenhagen, the government’s countermove is taking shape: A new task force under the Danish fraud squad, the State Prosecutor for Serious Economic and International Crime (SØIK).

Since 15 November, 2017, SØIK has added three extra prosecutors and four extra investigators in order to accelerate cases regarding counterfeit goods or infringement of intellectual property (IP) as part of a six-month trial.

There are not yet figures for how many companies have filed a case with the new IP task force, but two companies welcome the new opportunities.

“It means a lot for us. It signals that IP crime is a societal problem that the police must take seriously. Now the expertise and resources have been gathered to pursue Danish offenders. That is very positive,” says Mads Jørgensen, attorney at Nordisk Film, who faces major challenges in relation to illegal copying and streaming of films, among other things.

OneCollection A/S, which manufactures designer furniture by Finn Juhl, among others, and is copied all over the world, is a cautious optimist. 

“It’s difficult to predict what the outcome will be, but we’ll take all the help we can get to make it more difficult for counterfeiters. Naturally, everyone is subjected to counterfeiting, not just us,” says director and founder of OneCollection A/S.

When criminals copy a company’s products, they are stealing that raw material while also ignoring everything right from product safety and work environment to research and taxes.
LARS HOLM NIELSEN, SENIOR CONSULTANT AND HEAD OF IP RIGHTS AT THE CONFEDERATION OF DANISH INDUSTRY
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PUBLISHED: 4/5/2018 LAST MODIFIED: 4/5/2018