Mexican authorities should review not only the law, but also their interpretation of it in order to implement more efficient anti-counterfeiting policies.
In Mexico - as in m any other countries - 'counterfeiting' is understood as the production, reproduction, import, commercialisation, sale, storage, transportation, distribution and offer for sale of products which infringe IP rights, such as trademarks and copyrights.
Piracy and counterfeiting damage Mexican companies by up to $80 million a year, according to the National Chamber of the Transformation Industry, and result in the loss of 480,000 jobs a year. This has led the International Intellectual Property Alliance to include Mexico on its list of 25 countries under observation for failing to fight piracy and counterfeiting adequately and for allowing violations of IP rights to take place.
Despite amendments to the IP Law and the Copyright Law which set out harsher penalties for counterfeiting and piracy, the main impediments to combating counterfeiting remain technical and physical, rather than legal. Once a product has been manufactured, the copying and distribution process is simple, due to the extensive networks that have been developed by gangs of organised criminals.
This situation is particularly alarming as counterfeiting is not an isolated phenomenon that only affects rights holders. For many years, this type of illegal activity has been linked to other crimes, such as corruption, smuggling and tax evasion. More recently, links have been discovered between counterfeiters and drug cartels, suggesting that counterfeiting has become an instrument for funding other aspects of organised crime.
Despite this, counterfeiting has infiltrated all levels of society - many people are aware that it is a crime, but do not consider it to be damaging in the same way as other crimes.
The results of a survey on the consumption of counterfeit and pirated goods published by the American Chamber of Commerce - Mexican Chapter indicate that eight out of 10 people have bought counterfeit products. When asked, respondents cited the low cost of counterfeits and the ease with which they can be found (eg, a t street markets, stands, informal stalls and flea markets) as the principal reasons.
In addition, 58% of respondents mentioned that they do not have a negative perception of counterfeiting - so much so that their principal reason for not buying fake products is the low quality of the...