APL, one of the world’s leading ocean carriers, has joined global automotive giant Honda and French luxury leather goods company Longchamp in adding their signatures to the historic Declaration of Intent to Prevent the Maritime Transport of Counterfeit Goods (DOI).

The DOI is an outgrowth of a major report done by Business Action to Stop Piracy and Counterfeiting (BASCAP) – an initiative of the International Chamber of Commerce – on “The Roles and Responsibilities of Intermediaries – Fighting Counterfeiting and Piracy in the Supply Chain” which identified global shippers as one of the key intermediaries being infiltrated by large amounts of counterfeit goods.

The DOI is a joint effort between the global shipping industry and brand owners to work together to stop the transport of counterfeit goods on shipping vessels,” said Sophie Peresson, director of BASCAP.  “It responds to growing concerns of BASCAP members about criminals exploiting shipping vessels as a channel for transporting large quantities of counterfeit products.  We have been very impressed by the response and cooperation from the maritime shipping industry to DOI initiative.”

One year anniversary

The addition of three new signatories comes on the first anniversary of the signing of the original Declaration in November 2017, by leading shipping companies – Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM; leading freight forwarders – Kuehne and Nagel and Expeditors; and major multinational brand owners – Unilever, Bayer, Procter & Gamble, Chanel, Pfizer, Richemont, Lacoste, Dupont, Philip Morris International and CropLife.

Other signatories include the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA), and the International Chamber of Commerce’s Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP), and Commercial Crime Service (CCS).

Zero-tolerance approach

The Declaration, a voluntary and non-binding statement, acknowledges the “destructive impact” of counterfeits on international trade. It calls on other members of the maritime transport industry to address this impact “through continuous proactive measures, and corporate social responsibility principles.”  The Principles of the Declaration include a zero-tolerance policy towards counterfeiting, as well as strict supply chain controls, risk profiling and due diligence checks to ensure maritime operators are not co-operating with those involved with counterfeiting.

“Container loads of counterfeit automobile parts are shipped around the world without detection by criminal networks using a variety of techniques to hide their unlawful activity,” said Geraldina Mattsson, Department Manager of the Intellectual Property Department for Honda Motor Europe. “We see this Declaration as an important step in bringing together the brand owners, vessel companies and the service industry that supports maritime trade to find solutions. We are delighted to add Honda’s name to the list of signatories.”

“Like others in the luxury and fashion goods industry, Longchamp products are counterfeited on a large scale and vast amounts of this fakes are shipped by sea to ports around the world,” said Marilyne Serafin, Head of the Intellectual Property Department for Longchamp. “We are pleased to add our name to the Declaration to show our support for this critically important joint effort with the maritime industry.  This type of voluntary collaboration among all of the parties that deal with this transport issue will be the key to stopping these illegal fake goods from getting on the world’s vessels.”

Counterfeits – a costly trade

Products counterfeited are of virtually all types – from toys, to shampoos, to medicines – and are transported in huge numbers. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has reported that containerized transport of goods accounts for around 90% of total international trade; however, less than 2% of these containers are ever inspected to verify their contents.

According to a report by Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) / European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), trade in counterfeit goods amounted to US US$461 billion in 2013, an 80% increase on the figures from 2008. This means that counterfeits account for 2.5% of total global trade value. A further report by Frontier Economics, commissioned by BASCAP and the International Trademark Association (INTA), predicts the total annual cost of counterfeiting and digital piracy at between US $923 billion – 1.13 trillion, and predicts this could double by 2022 if current trends continue.

“Since the original signing, the signatories have formed five  working groups and have started the hard work  to develop best practices on issues such as Know Your Customer – all targeted at stopping the maritime transportation of counterfeit goods,” said Meena Sayal, global brand protection director, Unilever. “We are very pleased with the progress in this work and hope to announce specific details soon.”

Representatives for BASCAP and the maritime industry reiterated the importance and historic significance of the Declaration at two major events last week in Berlin.  Speakers presented on the DOI at the Financial Times Business Regulation Forum on Collaborative Solutions and Effective Stakeholder Engagement, and at the International Trademark Association (INTA) workshop on Free Trade Zones. Other recent presentations at events in both the maritime and intellectual property sectors include the TOC (The Terminal Operations Conference) Asia Container Supply Conference in Singapore in April 2017, Amsterdam in June 2017 and to freight forwarders and logistics experts at the FIATA World Congress in Kuala Lumpur in October 2017.