According to a new EUIPO study, 97% of EU citizens consider intellectual property to be important and think that innovation should be rewarded. However, the survey also shows that not all of them actually follow this principle – especially in the case of one group, the tolerance for purchasing counterfeits has increased.

According to the EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office), eight out of ten EU citizen thinks that illegal imitations pose an existential threat to businesses and destroy jobs. In addition, around 70% of respondents agrred that there is no justification for buying counterfeits.

At the same time, however, the study also concluded that the acceptance of purchasing counterfeit goods is increasing. In particular, this applies to the group of 15 to 24-year-olds who are less convinced of the negative consequences of product piracy. 15% of respondents aged 15 to 24 reported, for example, that they had knowingly purchased product counterfeits within the last 12 months, an increase of 9% compared to the previous survey in 2013. Compared to the EU average (10%), nearly three times as many 15- to 24-year-olds (27%) stated, that they have previously obtained online content from illegal sources.

The willingness of consumers to tolerate counterfeiting also appears to depend on the price of the original goods. Around 27% consider it acceptable to buy counterfeits when the price of the original is too high; 24% think it is okay to resort to counterfeits if the original product is not/not yet available in their country. In addition, the EUIPO study also points to increasing consumer uncertainty: around 35% of respondents said they were unsure about the authenticity of a product before, with 10% estimated to have fallen for plagiarism in the past.

“Overall, we find that citizens within the EU strongly support intellectual property rights. However, we can also see that more needs to be done; especially to help young people understand the importance of these rights for our economy and society,” said António Campinos, Executive Director of the EUIPO.

For the survey conducted in 2016, more than 26,000 persons aged 15 years and over were interviewed from all EU Member States. With this study, the EUIPO builds on the results of its 2013 analysis conducted on piracy and product protection.

Source: EUIPO