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Fake goods cost Switzerland CHF4.5 billion in a single year

Man inspects timepiece
Swiss manufactured goods are closely inspected to ensure they meet quality standards. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

The global trade in counterfeit “Made in Switzerland” goods cheated the Swiss economy out of 10,000 jobs and CHF4.5 billion ($4.9 billion) in one year alone, says an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study.

“In 2018, customers across the world paid over CHF2 billion for counterfeit ‘Swiss’ products – believing they were buying an original,” stated theExternal link Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI), which commissioned the OECD study.

Had those goods been made in Switzerland they would have sold for a higher value. Half of the people buying fake goods were duped into believing they were purchasing the real thing, the OECD estimates.

The Swiss watch and jewellery sectors were hit the hardest, losing out on an estimated CHF2 billion in 2018 and four out of 10 jobs that would have been created had the fraud not existed. But other affected sectors included machinery, electrical engineering, clothing and shoes.

The vast majority of fakes that were passed off as Swiss originated in China and Hong Kong, followed by Singapore and Turkey. India is also blamed for counterfeiting of medicinal products.

Switzerland has long waged a global campaign against counterfeit rip-offs, including the STOP PIRACYExternal link online platform.

According to IPI, the study “provides a solid basis for decision-making – together with policy – to disrupt the underhanded practice of counterfeiters in a more targeted manner. To this end, in future, the IPI will advocate even more intensively for minimum standards for the enforcement of intellectual property rights in free trade agreements.”


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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR