Caution. Counterfeits endanger your health and safety!
Berlin, March 17, 2022: World Consumer Day on March 15 is one of those days that often passes us by unnoticed. In doing so, unlike many other days of action, it addresses an issue that affects every one of us without exception.
A 2020 study by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) found that one in 10 Europeans had accidentally bought a counterfeit at least once in the previous 12 months, and as many as one in three were unsure about it.1 “Consumers are being deceived en masse, and often the counterfeits are dangerous or harmful to health,” says Volker Bartels, Chairman of the Board of the Aktionskreis gegen Produkt- und Markenpaterie, “The counterfeits only extremely rarely meet the same quality standards as the branded products. Most of the time they are produced cheaply under terrible conditions and value is placed on appearances at best. However, the price is increasingly the same.”
It is true that in such cases there is usually a defect and the buyer can, for example, withdraw from the contract. “However, these consumer rights often cannot be enforced because the sellers are based abroad or use false identities on the Internet,” Bartels knows, “But the perpetrators must be held liable.”
The pandemic in particular has shown how unscrupulously the counterfeiters act and deliberately accept the risk to the safety and health of consumers. In recent years, European customs authorities have consistently classified a significant proportion of counterfeit products seized at borders as posing a risk to consumers. These include, for example, counterfeit medicines without an active ingredient or with impurities, plagiarized vehicle and machine parts, or children’s toys or clothing with toxic dyes.
According to a recent study by the EUIPO, 60% of the goods classified as dangerous were found in postal traffic.2 In most cases, these came from online trade.
“Many companies, for example, scour the net for counterfeit offers, have shipments of goods from abroad confiscated at the border, and ultimately also engage in consumer protection in this way,” said Bartels, “But there is also a need for effective legislative measures and increased cooperation between all parties involved to make it more difficult to offer counterfeit products online, so that the danger to consumers from counterfeit products comes to an end and confidence in online commerce is maintained.”
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 EUIPO, Dangerous Fakes, 2022