Survey on perception of counterfeiting in El Salvador released

El Salvador
The American Chamber of Commerce in El Salvador has released the results of a survey on the perception of counterfeiting and piracy in the country. The survey, which was conducted in December 2007, covered individuals living in metropolitan areas with ages ranging from 18 to over 50.
The persons interviewed stated that counterfeit goods consist mainly of:
  • apparel (61%);
  • CDs (52%); and
  • DVDs (39%).
According to the survey, DVDs and CDs are easy to copy, and the investment and risk involved in such activity are relatively low. Other products listed included shoes, food, toys, medicines and perfume.  
The survey highlighted the economic behaviour of Salvadorans with regard to the acquisition of counterfeit goods bearing famous brands. Salvadorans are most likely to buy counterfeit clothing (53%), shoes (34%) and perfume (26%), followed by counterfeit CDs, DVDs, food products, sport shoes, medicines, jewellery, toys, watches and books. The counterfeiting of computer software is generally not carried out on a large scale, although a report recently released by the Business Software Alliance indicates that 80% of software used in El Salvador is counterfeit.
According to the survey of the American Chamber of Commerce, 65.9% of interviewees believed that counterfeit goods cost at least half the price of the original products. Therefore, there is a generalized belief that “buying counterfeit products is smart, even if they are deficient with regard to their quality, safety features and durability”.
Further, 71.4% of the interviewees who stated that they would not buy a counterfeit CD were women aged 50 or over possessing a masters degree or a PhD. Most men aged between 18 and 29 stated that they would consider buying a counterfeit CD.
In addition, the survey highlighted the importance of income rates in the population’s attitude towards counterfeit goods. Individuals with a higher income tend not to buy counterfeit products, whereas individuals with a lower income buy counterfeited goods to convey an image of success through material possessions.
According to the survey, 96.6% of Salvadorans are aware that counterfeiting is illegal. Three out of seven interviewees recognized that piracy is a crime, but believed that it should not be punished. The responses varied based on the income and age of the interviewees: older people and high earners were more aware of the seriousness of this crime and of the importance of IP rights. Seventy-one percent of interviewees claimed to be aware of the fact that the sale of counterfeit goods is banned by law; however, only 47.9% of interviewees were aware that the acquisition of counterfeit products is also prohibited by law.  
The survey highlighted that the issue of piracy must be addressed from several angles. Potential measures include:
  • educating the population about the importance of IP rights (at schools and universities);
  • modifying the existing laws and increasing the penalties for infringement; and
  • modernizing the judicial system and any government agency that may play a role in the protection of trademarks, patents, copyright and other IP rights.
In light of these findings, the government must step up its efforts to fight counterfeiting.
Jose Roberto Romero, Romero Pineda & Asociados, San Salvador

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