Two important reports regarding intellectual property crimes have been published: “2020 Status Report on IPR Infringement” published by European Intellectual Property Office (“EUIPO”) and “IP Crime and its Link to Other Serious Crimes” published by the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (“EUROPOL”) and EUIPO.
“2020 Status Report on IPR Infringement” covers the economic value of intellectual property rights in the EU economy, the infringement mechanisms used to capture that value, and the actions being taken in response to these infringements. The report brings together findings of the research carried out through the European Observatory on the Infringement of Intellectual Property Rights and underlines the importance of IP rights to the EU economy and in terms of the COVID-19 crisis, which has dominated the first half of 2020 and threatens to have long-lasting effects. This report also presents organized crime groups’ (“OCG”) involvement in intellectual property crimes based on cases investigated by EUROPOL.
In order to identify the most prevalent provenance economies of counterfeit goods entering the EU, the research takes account of customs seizure percentages and trade flows and names Turkey as a provenance along with Benin, China, Gambia, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Morocco, Panama, the United Arab Emirates.
Moreover, with reference to the study conducted by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”) and the EUIPO with the aim of distinguishing between provenance economies that are producers of counterfeits and those that act as trade routes, the report identifies Turkey as the third biggest producer of counterfeit goods; following China and India.
The report titled “IP Crime and its Link to Other Serious Crimes” presents case examples regarding intellectual property crime’s link to other forms of criminality; including money laundering, document fraud, cybercrime, fraud, drug production, and trafficking and terrorism.
Under the title “Bribery & Corruption”, the report defines corruption as a threat to societies’ safety and underlines that it is one of the means used by criminal organizations, including intellectual property crimes, to achieve their unfair objectives. The details regarding Operation Monkey Box, which is connected with Turkey are also presented as a case example. In the context of this case, the Greek Financial Police Division disrupted two independent organized criminal groups that systematically imported and distributed large quantities of counterfeit products from Turkey to Greece and sold those products as genuine.
The investigation revealed that EUR 1,551,226 was transferred to Turkey illegally during 2016-2018, and OCG’s illicit profits are estimated to exceed EUR 3,500,000. As a result of this investigation, 86 people were prosecuted and twenty people were arrested, including 4 public servants. Two police officers were implicated in the case, one of whom was arrested for facilitating the work of the OCG, while the other one was charged with a breach of duty.
Both reports explain the harm of intellectual property crime, which is often seen as a victimless crime, to the economy; its presence with other crimes conducted by OCGs, and argue that the fight against intellectual property right infringement needs to be strengthened.