ICC publishes global survey on counterfeiting and piracy


The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has released its first annual Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP) Global Survey on Counterfeiting and Piracy. The survey, which was conducted in cooperation with the Cass Business School of the City University of London, included a poll of 48 companies, many with global operations, in 27 different industries. The purpose of the survey was to "evaluate corporate perceptions of the degree to which countries protect - or fail to protect - intellectual property from the threat of piracy and counterfeiting".

Two lists stand out from the survey: countries with the most favourable IP environments and countries with the least favourable IP environments from the point of view of counterfeiting and piracy. The United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France are among the top-ranking countries, while China, Russia, India and Brazil are at the bottom end of the scale. The survey report notes that this confirms the results of other studies such as the European Commission survey of EU businesses.

The survey identifies two key factors which respondents viewed as important in achieving a favourable IP environment:

  • the effective role of the media in raising public awareness of the importance of combating piracy and counterfeiting; and
  • strong public cooperation with enforcement agencies in combating piracy and counterfeiting.

At the other end of the scale, three factors are most important in selecting the countries with the least favourable IP environments:

  • the extent to which a country met its obligations under international treaties;

  • cooperation of the public with IP enforcement agencies; and

  • the role of media in public education.

In respect of the first factor, the survey confirms that respondents saw the lack of enforcement, rather than the lack of legislation, as the key influence. Two other determining factors are the amount of resources a government commits to enforcement of IP rights, and the existence of a clear government policy against piracy and counterfeiting.

Respondents to the survey selected one of three areas as to where further government resources ought to be targeted in combating counterfeiting and piracy: legislation, enforcement or public information. Enforcement was by far the strongest preference of the majority of respondents.

In addition, respondents were asked to indicate how much they themselves spent on three areas:

  • anti-counterfeiting technologies and product differentiation;

  • educating the public; and

  • funding local enforcement authorities.

Companies indicated that they overwhelmingly choose to spend money internally, protecting their products directly rather than supporting joint external operations.

The results on the strongest influences on investment decisions confirm that public opinion is a prime consideration. The survey shows that global traders, in making investment decisions, assess:

  • the extent to which intellectual property is a public issue;

  • how it is represented in the media; and

  • the degree of public support for enforcement efforts.

Similar issues were discussed at the Third Global WIPO Congress on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy, held in Geneva on January 30 and 31 2007.

It will be interesting to see the results of future surveys and whether the recommendations and views of global traders captured in the first BASCAP survey are taken on board by government organizations and in turn whether these recommendations result in changes to public attitudes to the protection of intellectual property. The message to governments in the BASCAP survey is clear: the starting point to achieving a more favourable IP environment is to invest in stronger enforcement strategies.

Most favourable

2 UK
3 Germany
4 France
5 Japan
6 Canada
7 Switzerland
8 Netherlands
9 Singapore
10 Australia

Least favourable

1 China
2 Russia
3 India
4 Brazil
5 Indonesia
6 Vietnam
7 Taiwan
8 Pakistan
9 Turkey
10 Ukraine

Lisa Ritson and Arthur, Blake Dawson Waldron, Sydney

Unlock unlimited access to all WTR content