The main purpose of intellectual property rights, such as designs, patents, copyright and trademarks, is to promote innovation. In the case of trademarks, they also act as a guarantee. In today's society, the range of goods and services is increasing, but within it there are fewer and fewer differences in terms of quality and other characteristics. For that reason, a trademark is becoming an increasingly important and valuable way of convincing consumers to choose a specific product or service.
Fierce competition and the risk of negative publicity also serve as powerful incentives for manufacturers and other trademark owners to supply safe, high quality goods. In that way, consumers are also given a guarantee that goods or services from the same commercial origin meet the safety requirements and maintain a certain quality.
Infringement and trade in pirated goods
In order for inventors and other innovators to invest in and try to realize their ideas, it is essential that they can cover their development and investment costs. As soon as someone has created a successful product, pirated copies unfortunately appear on the market. By avoiding the development costs, rogue actors can take unfair advantage of a creator's investment and make it difficult for an innovator to cover their costs. In that way, the trade in pirated goods counteracts innovation.
Pirated goods are normally associated with fashion items, such as sunglasses and clothes, or different copyright protected works, such as films and music. However, counterfeits are worldwide and in all industries. The list is endless, but includes products such as printers, pharmaceuticals, car parts, food and toys.
For the consumer, pirated goods can seem cheap and good, but the reality is often quite different. The pirated goods often cost just as much as the originals. They are made of poor quality materials and rarely meet basic safety requirements. Using such products can, therefore, be very dangerous. In the case of pharmaceuticals and food, the risks of counterfeits are obvious. The pharmaceutical could be ineffective and both pharmaceuticals and food could contain dangerous substances. Other products can also be hazardous to consumers. A teddy bear made from toxic materials or loose parts can, for example, be dangerous for both children and the environment. And a poor quality karabiner can have dire consequences for a mountaineer. You can find more information about counterfeit pharmaceuticals on the Medical Products Agency's website.
Further, the trade and manufacturing of pirated goods is often controlled by criminal groups, who use it to launder money, among other things. The goods are usually manufactured under appalling working conditions, which all too often include child labour. In addition to the obvious risks of pirated goods, trading in them can also lead to serious companies being knocked out of the market and jobs being lost.
In order to avoid those and other negative consequences, it is important to distance yourself from the trade in pirated and other infringing goods.
www.lakemedelsverket.se (the Medical Products Agency's website)
www.crimemedicine.com (the Medical Products Agency's information campaign)
www.innovaccess.eu (the EU's website about how companies can use intellectual property rights and protect themselves against piracy)