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back to article Italy calls for anti-counterfeit commissioner

An Italian minister has called on the European Union to appoint a specialist anti-counterfeit commissioner. Italian deputy economic development minister Sergio D'Antoni told delegates at a conference in Rome that a dedicated official was needed to deal with the growing economic problems caused by counterfeit or faked goods. "The …

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Anonymous Coward

Just do more random checks

Well that $5.1bn is a lot closer to reality than previous numbers*. But since these are fake imported goods from China, why does it need a commissioner, why not just make more random inspections of goods being imported from China?

Counterfeiting is the hot topic now, drug companies can see a way to sell cheap in one market and expensive in another and block trade between the two markets under the guise of 'protecting again counterfeit goods'. No substance brand names (badging operations that import Chinese goods and badge them as their own) see a way to prevent competitors importing the same goods.

If you create a Commissions for Counterfeiting, the issue of counterfeiting will simply be hijacked into another market protection scheme, he needs to create new laws to justify his position, but the laws are fine, it's just the number of inspections that need to be improved.

*Italy 2005 imports were 3,454,957,000 US$ equivalent. The US random inspections of imports found that 0.06% were counterfeit goods by value:

http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/2243/135/

There's no reason Italy would be more or less than any other developed country, so 0.06% is a reasonable figure, i.e. about $2 billion, rather than $5.1bn but still quite a plausible number.

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Flame

Italians are spot-on

There is a huge problem with counterfeit goods that needs to be tackled urgently. Relying on local Trading Standards officers is not enough any more and hasn't been for years. You get two massive problems: criminals are stealing from the taxpayer as you can bet your last dollar there'll be no tax revenue from counterfeit goods. The second problem is trickle-down criminality where more and more parts of society resort to criminal methods more easily. It doesn't take a genius to work out that reducing taxed income and spreading endemic criminality is fatal for any society and may put that society in jeopardy or indeed, in terminal decline. It would also help if the authorities stopped spreading scare stories about counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbags funding terrorists and instead framed it in terms of criminals stealing money directly from the public purse.

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Anonymous Coward

Worth a Commissioners Nose

"criminals are stealing from the taxpayer"

I don't see how, as the story points out most of the goods are *imported* and hence tax is prepaid on the imports to clear the goods through customs. (to import an item from outside the EU, you pay the vat+import duty at import time).

It's not like we have the ability to make fake leather bags cheaply (and secretly, any counterfeit factory has to be kept a secret), with employees paid in cash and suppliers paid in cash,.. since we don't make much of any bulk retail items in Europe. Copied DVD-Rs yes, but then they're clearly fake copies and can only be sold in street markets. Local trading standards deals with those.

I think the big area is imports and more random checks on the imports is the best fix for that. Open more of the containers, if a particular wholesaler has some goods that are pirated, search more of their containers and so on.

But we should keep in mind it's only 0.06% of imports, so basically if trade is handled by 1 EU Commissioner then we're talking 1/1666th of an EU Commission should be dedicated to counterfeit goods, an ankle, or an ear or nose perhaps.

I don't buy your collapse-of-society line.

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Re:Worth a Commissioners Nose

Your naivety is truly staggering - are you really so silly to think that people selling counterfeit goods are actually going to pay tax on them? Their trade is not legitimate by default so they're hardly likely to be completing tax forms for HMRC. You can't hardly declare tax on counterfeit goods, can you or do you know some particularly stupid criminals?

But this is a Europe-wide problem, go to any holiday resort in the Mediterranean and the shops are over-flowing with fake football strips, sportswear, sunglasses and so on. It doesn't matter which way you slice it up it is all theft, whether fiddling the taxman or the copyright owners. Do you think all the markets, car boot sales, eBay and all that other outlets are actually paying VAT? Your tolerance for criminality is one of the most lame things I've read in a long time.

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Happy

@smellyfinger

I note that you chime in on every aspect of the copywrong discussions. Always taking the "piracy is theft", "copying is theft", "counterfeit is theft", etc, stance.

This makes me wonder a little about your background. Would that be the Recording Cartels, or the movie massacre-and-translate business (a lot of the grey import of DVDs, are zone-1 dvd's because the European version lacks things like DTS sountrack). According to your earlier statements, such importing of zone-1 DVDs falls into the category of "theft", and since there is a general attitude of never buying a region-locked DVD in Europe, you must call this "organized crime".

Maybe you (smellyfingers) would rather the authorities started taking a tougher stance on copywrong issues? Let's start by examining the Recording Cartels for price-fixing, illegal wiretaps (those mediasentry screenshots fall in under this category), blackmail, etc. But make sure that every person performing these illegal acts gets their proper jailtime, not just an economic slap-on-the-wrist for the company. Would be more effective. Of course, give penalty rebates to those who admit guilt, and point of which executives that gave the order, and those who know which politicians were bought off to get their copywrong laws accepted. If nothing else, such a campaign would remove certain trolls from commentating on The Reg.

Regards,

Svein Skogen

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Silver badge

Obvious solution

Counterfeiting is just the market's way of fighting back at the big brands' overpricing scams.

There may not be any tax paid on counterfeit goods, but the price includes markups at various levels to cover the illegality of parts of the operation. Think of these as alternative taxes paid to a different set of authorities. If it's possible to manufacture goods and sell them for that price, then it's clear that the big brands are overpricing. (Tests have shown that counterfeit goods are rarely inferior in quality to the real thing, at least not by the margins often claimed by those with a vested interest.)

And however you look at it, counterfeiting is *not* theft and does *not* represent lost sales. Given a choice of "buy the real thing, buy a cheap fake or do without", people will buy a cheap fake. Remove the cheap fake option, and people will opt to do without. Counterfeiting can actually *increase* sales of the genuine article: some people are honest enough to buy the real thing, but not if they haven't seen an advertisement for it (in the form of someone showing off a fake).

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Thumb Down

Svein Skogen/A J Stiles: what are you talking about?

Italy is obviously concerned about counterfeit clothes, bags, shoes, etc, not region locked DVDs.

And how do you know that in Europe there is a tendency not to buy region locked DVDs?? - is that based on a market research involving you and your buddies who use words like copywrong?

Regarding A J Stiles's comments: I doubt counterfeiting is our way out of capitalistic exploitation. Particularly when you put two importart things in the picture which you forgot to mention in your message:

1) counterfeiting is in the hands of large criminal organisations, not fair trade guerrilla dreamers

2) counterfeit goods are produced in sweatshops; at least Apple gets some heat when we find out that ipods come from sweatshops, the fake Luis Vuitton bag is most probably produced in factories when human rights don't exist but no-one takes the blame.

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@Andy S

On the European mainland, region-locking of DVD players is illegal as it constitutes anti-competitive behaviour. (It would have been here, too, if John Major had had a spine and not opted the UK out of certain European legislation.) Every DVD player sold on the Continent is multi-region. We poor Brits have to spend a few minutes searching the Internet to find out how get our new DVD players to work with region 1 discs.

"1) counterfeiting is in the hands of large criminal organisations, not fair trade guerrilla dreamers"

Whereas the distribution of non-counterfeit goods is in the hands of large organisations, not concerned with fair trade, and which are only spared the label "criminal" by the grace of the Government.

"2) counterfeit goods are produced in sweatshops; at least Apple gets some heat when we find out that ipods come from sweatshops, the fake Luis Vuitton bag is most probably produced in factories when human rights don't exist but no-one takes the blame."

And the real Louis Vuitton bag probably is also produced in factories when human rights don't exist.

I believe there should be a law against importing *any* goods manufactured under conditions which would not be acceptable in the *destination* country. If the workers are not guaranteed a fair wage, trade union membership rights, healthcare &c.; or working practices are detrimental to the environment or the health and safety of workers or local people, then we should not allow the goods to be imported.

I don't know of any sane objection to that, but I'm sure Governments can find plenty.

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Anonymous Coward

facts?

"On the European mainland, region-locking of DVD players is illegal as it constitutes anti-competitive behaviour."

What? I am for European mainland and my DVD player is region locked.

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