The Worldwide Threat
How big of a problem is commercial counterfeiting? Estimates vary, but losses have escalated alarmingly since the mid-1970s. The IACC places overall losses for U.S. industries in 1995 at a whopping $200 billion--up substantially from $86 billion in 1988. According to the Counterfeiting Intelligence Bureau (CIB) in England, an estimated 5 to 7 percent of all products on the market are counterfeit. The CIB estimates that the United States lost 120,000 jobs and Europe lost 100,000 jobs per year during a ten-year period ending in 1997. The Centre for Exploitation of Science and Technology, which placed the rate of counterfeiting at 7 percent in 1991, estimates that the world piracy rate may be as high as 10 percent today. 1
There are several reasons for the huge upswing in counterfeiting losses. One reason is that organized crime is becoming more involved in commercial counterfeiting. Why are criminals selling counterfeit watches and designer jeans? Because it is lucrative, and the crime is not likely to draw attention or significant jail time. "Trademark counterfeiting has become a core activity for organized crime because of the big rewards and low risk of prosecution," said a spokesperson for the Institute of Trading Standards Administration in Britain.
In 1991, David Thai, who was formerly the gang leader for the Vietnamese gang Born to Kill (BTK), confessed to earning over $13 million from the sale of counterfeit watches. Operating out of Canal Street, the