Counterfeit Goods

Information and statistics about counterfeiting and the sale of counterfeit goods. Estimated losses from counterfeits, markets where fake goods are sold, and other piracy statistics are collected from criminal justice programs and public information sources.

According to the Business Software Association, 16 cases of businesses using pirated software were settled in Australia in 2013. The fines and settlements paid out by the businesses totaled $483,785 (536,050 Australian). The settlements paid out for pirated software was 20 percent higher than the amount paid out in 2012.

The BSA reported that almost a third of the business that were caught using pirated software were architectural firms and companies in the design industry.

Back in 2012, engineering firms accounted for nearly half of all companies caught using pirated software in Australia.

Source:  Hannah Francis, “Business software piracy hits record,” Business Spectator, February 18, 2014.

The Kenya Film Classification Board banned the movie Wolf of Wall Street from being show in the country due to its “extreme scenes of nudity, sex, debauchery, hedonism and cursing”, as reported by the BBC.

Despite the ban, the Oscar-nominated movie directed by Martin Scorsese about a Wall Street stockbroker is readily available on the black market. The reported price for a pirated copy of Wolf of Wall Street sold at street DVD vendors in Kenya is $0.57.

(More black market prices and services.)

Source:  “Kenya arrests over banned Wolf of Wall Street film,” BBC News, February 13, 2014.

In Febraury 2014, Interpol and Europol reported on global raids conducted against producers and sellers of counterfeit foods.

In total, over 1,200 tonnes of counterfeit and substandard food and nearly 430,000 liters of counterfeit beverages were seized across 33 countries. 96 people were arrested by various criminal justice programs during the investigation.

Highlights of the campaign against counterfeit foods:

  • Across Europe, over 131,000 liters of fake oil and vinegar , 80,000 counterfeit biscuits and chocolate bars, 20 tonnes of fake spices and condiments, and 45 tonnes of substandard dairy products were seized by Europol.
  • In Italy, 60,000 bottles and labels of fake champagne was seized.
  • Police in Thailand found over 270 bottles of fake whiskey.
  • $17.2 Million worth of counterfeit foods and drinks were seized in Colombia.

Source:  “Global police swoop seizes millions in fake food, drink,” Channel NewsAsia, February 14, 2014.

Criminal justice programs in Russia reported that sales of counterfeit whiskey in the country may have been worth $230 Million (8 Billion Rubles) in 2013.

Based on sales and import tracking data, the State Statistics Service in Russia reported that retailers sold 9.9 million more liters of whiskey than officially imported. Officials believe that this figure represents the number of counterfeit whiskey bottles sold in the country.

In 2012, an estimated 7.8 million liters of fake whiskey was sold in Russia.

Media in Russia reported that whiskey is the most popular alcohol to be counterfeited in the country, followed by rum and tequila.

Source:  RIA Novosti, “Russians Drank 10M Liters of Counterfeit Whiskey in 2013,” Moscow Times, February 10, 2014.

A report by the Mobile Manufacturers Forum reported that 125 million substandard and counterfeit mobile phones were sold around the world in 2011. In 2012, the number of counterfeit phones sold increased to 148 million units.

The estimated amount for 2013 was projected to be 1.86 million units. Thus, up to 8 percent of all mobile devices sold worldwide in 2013 were substandard or counterfeits.

Over 20 percent of mobile phones sold in India is estimated to be counterfeits, according to the report.Many of the counterfeit phones sold in the India that were made in China were found to have high levels of lead. This is similar to a study conducted by researchers in Brazil who found that the five counterfeit phones that they tested all had lead and cadmium levels that were higher than EU regulations.

In Libya, up to 80 percent of the mobile phones for sale in the country were smuggled into the country and sold on the black market.

Source:  Rachel Feltman, “That fake iPhone is probably full of lead,” Quartz, February 6, 2014.


Websites such as eBay offer empty Tiffany blue boxes for sale on their sites that are often counterfeit knockoffs.

The famous blue boxes of Tiffany & Co. are in high demand in the auction market. According to press reports, the boxes can cost between $10 to $30 on auction websites. Quartz interviewed one seller of empty boxes who stated that his empty Tiffany box had 13 bids on it. The final price of the box was sold for $15.50.

Another purchase on eBay found a set of six empty blue boxes, two gift bags and four white satin ribbons from Tiffany sold for $95.

According to eBay, selling a box from a retailer without an acutal product is not allowed.

Tiffany & Co. stated that the blue box is a registered trademark, and that many of the boxes offered for sale are fakes.

Source:  Antonia Massa, “Tiffany’s blue boxes are red hot on the black market,” Quartz, February 6, 2014.

According to research by Dutch firm GfK, only 10 percent of all ebooks on devices were actually paid for, with most of the digital books being pirated.

On average, an e-reader in the Netherlands holds on average 117 ebooks. Out of that total, 11 were bought at legitimate websites. The remaining books were pirated at file-sharing sites or through Bit-torrent files.

Ebooks sales in the Netherlands account for 4.5 percent of total revenue for publishers.

A Dutch man admitted to the criminal justice system that he uploaded over 5,000 ebooks to The Pirate Bay as anti-piracy group BREIN attempted to bring criminal charges against him. However, the court ruled that it was not a criminal case.  The Dutch Court system also recently lifted a ban on The Pirate Bay website. At the end of January 2014, the Hague Appeals Court ordered an end to a ban on the website.  The Court found that the ban on the Pirate Bay had no impact on slowing down online piracy in the Netherlands.

(More pirated ebooks information.)

Source:  Michael Kolowski, “eBook Piracy a Big Deal in the Netherlands,” Good E-Reader, February 5, 2014.

Source:  Ernesto, “Pirate Bay Uploader Can’t Be Criminallly Prosecuted, Court Rules,” TorrentFreak, January 29, 2014.

Source:  “Netherlands court orders end to Pirate Bay ban,” BBC News, January 29, 2014.

Security services and public health programs in Liberia are attempting to crack down on the market in counterfeit drugs.

In six months, authorities have arrested 10 people for selling counterfeit drugs in the country. The campaign began in July 2013 in an attempt to stop the trade in fake drugs.

Buyers and sellers of counterfeit drugs state that they have no choice but to buy the drugs. One buyer interviewed by the media stated that he pays $3 for a single anti-malaria pill sold in a legitimate pharmacy. A counterfeit version of the drug is sold on the street for $1.50.

Sellers of counterfeit drugs state that they have no other way of making an income in the country.

(Additional counterfeit goods statistics.)

Source:  “Counterfeit drug war in Liberia,” IRIN, January 29, 2014.

Customs Officials in Saudi Arabia reported that is seized around 40 million counterfeit goods within Saudi Arabia in 2013. In addition to the number of fake goods seized, security services also stopped and prevented over 124 million counterfeits from entering the country in 2013.

One of the main fake and substandard product that was seized by the authorities were 30,000 air conditioners that were counterfeited and not made to government standards.

(More counterfeit goods statistics here.)

Source: Hazem Al-Shraqawi, “Fake items decline 45%,” Arab News, January 29, 2014.

According to the Southern African Federation Against Copyright Theft, the music industry in South Africa loses up to $45 Million (500 Million South African Rand) each year to pirated music.

The main causes of users downloading music in South Africa is the cheap or free price of the music files and the availability of the music content. Many South Africans also reported that they did not know file sharing was illegal.

The industry lobbying group also stated that organized crime groups are involved in music piracy activities in South Africa.

Source:  “On-going piracy battle in the SA music industry,” SABC, January 25, 2014.