Health warning: COVID-19 and the rise of counterfeits


Elizabeth Dennis

Health warning: COVID-19 and the rise of counterfeits

Angelina Bambina /

The COVID-19 pandemic means that counterfeits pose a greater threat than ever before, as Elizabeth Dennis of Marks & Clerk argues.

The market share for counterfeit goods has increased significantly over recent years, with a 2019 report by the EU Intellectual Property Office and Organisation for Economic Co-operation estimating trade in counterfeit goods to have increased from 2.5 % in 2013 to now approximately 3.3% of global trade. The report values the market of counterfeits goods to be in the region of USD $509 billion, up from $461 billion. 

Counterfeit goods can be found across nearly all commercial sectors, with the UK-based Anti-Counterfeiting Group listing alcohol, fragrance, sunglasses, cigarettes, toys, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, household products, soap and mobile phones as the sectors most likely to fall victim. 

Given the significantly increased demand for healthcare and pharmaceutical products in a post-COVID-19 world, there is a greater opportunity for counterfeiters to exploit this sector. Brand owners and law enforcement authorities need to be prepared to respond to this threat. 

COVID-19, counterfeits, pandemic, EUIPO, OECD, Red Points, Marks & Clerk, WHO, track and trace, vaccine, PPE