Counterfeiting forum

The Directorate-General for the fight against counterfeiting - UIBM has conducted a range of surveys, studies and research, partly in conjunction with national and international partners, aimed at raising awareness of counterfeiting and identifying new and efficient prevention strategies.

A summary is provided below of the major surveys conducted by the Directorate-General to analyse and "quantify" counterfeiting, with regard to:

  • the impact of counterfeiting at the macroeconomic (the National Economic System) and microeconomic (consumers, firms, production sectors) level;
  • seizures of counterfeit products in Italy;
  • the involvement of organised crime in counterfeiting;
  • surveys into consumption of counterfeit products and the view of consumers and the sectors most seriously affected by counterfeiting.

For further details and statistics, visit:

CENSIS study on counterfeiting

The “Dimensions, characteristics and further information on counterfeiting. Final report” published in 2012 and prepared by Censis (Social Investments Study Centre), in conjunction with the DGLC-UIBM, is a review and extension of a previous report published in 2009. The 2009 edition offered a wider and more detailed outline of the scenario and the dimensions of counterfeiting in Italy, analysis of the impact at macroeconomic level, with an "input/output" type analysis method, and analysis focused on the principal merchandise sectors.
The new edition provides an estimate of the estimated “revenues of counterfeiting” in terms of consumption of counterfeit products, and the relative macroeconomic impacts, at aggregate level and in each sector concerned, over the 2008-2010 two-year period. In addition to examining the economic value and lost tax revenues linked with counterfeiting, and also the current and renewed Italian institutional and regulatory context, the report examines several sectors (leather goods and footwear, cosmetics and design) in greater detail. It also analyses demand through focus groups, considered the most appropriate means of identifying the social experience of purchasing counterfeit goods. Focus groups were held in the three major Italian cities (Milan, Rome and Naples), selecting only people who purchase counterfeit goods, in order to examine the public and private dimensions of counterfeiting from the viewpoint of those who use it. One of the most significant points to emerge from the focus groups was that consumer purchasing strategies may change according to what they are buying and where they are. An attempt was also made to identify both the motivations and feelings behind their purchase experiences, in order to seek potentially dissuasive factors.

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The IPERICO Report, “Counterfeiting in figures: the fight against counterfeiting in Italy in 2008-2011”, is one of the periodic publications resulting from the planning, implementation and updating of the IPERICO database and analyses national data on the activities of the authorities in the fight against counterfeiting, in terms of number of seizures, quantities seized and their estimated economic value. The data has been reclassified on the basis of the type of illegal activity associated with the seizure, the goods categories, geographical location and the Agency which seized the goods. This publication is therefore a vital aid in improving our knowledge of the counterfeit goods market, due to its global and wide-ranging approach to the issue.

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UNICRI Survey on counterfeiting and organised crime
The “Counterfeiting as an activity managed by transnational organised crime: the Italian case” report, prepared in conjunction with UNICRI, the Inter-regional Institute of the United Nations for Research into Crime and Justice, whose mission includes applied research into organised crime, is based on analysis of international data on trafficking of counterfeit goods and provides a complete overview of this phenomenon in Italy, including the implications of foreign organised crime. Through collaboration with the UNICRI, the DGLC-UIBM acquired data on the involvement of Italian and transnational organised crime in the illegal trade of counterfeit products in Italy and the entry routes of this traffic, which are managed by criminal groups. The report, aimed at obtaining a map of organised crime involved in counterfeiting in Italy, is based on analysis of legal documents, some of which are still covered by the confidentiality of preliminary investigations. The action of the DGLC-UIBM at the United Nations also led, in coordination with the Italian diplomatic authorities in Vienna, to approval of a Resolution of the Crime and Justice Commission, approved by all member states, which introduced trafficking of counterfeit goods into the group of topics studied as emerging crime for the first time.

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Survey on "Consumers' perception of counterfeiting"
In 2010, the Directorate-General for the Fight against Counterfeiting - UIBM, asked the Consumer Associations which had co-signed a specific protocol of agreement to conduct a survey into “Consumers' perception of counterfeiting”, with the intention of investigating:

  • the extent of the phenomenon 
  • ways and channels for purchasing counterfeit goods
  • the most commonly purchased types of products
  • awareness of the potential personal risks and the economic damage caused by this type of purchases.

The quality-quantity survey was divided into two phases.

The first phase was conducted between December 2012 (in order to study shopping habits in the Christmas period) and January 2011 (to obtain data on purchasing habits during the clearance sales). CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews) were conducted with 4,000 people.
It emerged from the survey that:

  • only 14.65% of the interviewees admitted that they had purchased counterfeit goods
  • 90% of the interviewees stated that they know buying counterfeit goods is a crime
  • almost 73% of people who buy counterfeit goods do not feel any sense of civic duty, stating that they do not feel guilty about avoiding the tax man, funding organised crime or damaging the economy
  • the most purchased counterfeit goods are articles of apparel and accessories, primarily from stalls, street pedlars and ethnic vendors
  • price is the main reason for buying counterfeit goods (91.4% gave it as their first or second reason)
  • those buying counterfeit goods do not see any major difference in quality with the original: 71.2% stated that they were actually satisfied with their purchase and would choose it again.

The second phase of the fact-finding survey was conducted in 2012. 1,200 CATI were conducted with a representative sample of the Italian population in terms of sex, age, geographical area and demographic size. It emerged that:

  • the percentage of interviewees who admitted they have purchased counterfeit goods (30.6% of the sample) continues to be lower than what is commonly perceived; the percentage is higher than in the first phase, but this is due to the fact that the second questionnaire was deliberately more conversational and less inquisitional, in order to overcome any reticence encountered
  • almost 96% of Italians know that counterfeit products could be dangerous for their health 
  • the most purchased counterfeit goods are articles of apparel and accessories (23.2%): this is partly because the purchaser is more likely to be aware that these are counterfeit goods, partly due to the counterfeit trademarks being well-known and partly due to the extremely high price of the originals. The purchase is more likely to be made unknowingly in the food, cosmetics and toys categories, due to a superficial knowledge of the original market 
  • the economic motive (attractive price) continues to prevail overwhelmingly amongst the reasons for buying such goods (79.8%), although, during a period of severe economic crisis, as many as 21.5% stated that they needed the article in question consumers' expectations are generally disappointed by counterfeit goods, in terms of both quality and the ratio of price to quality, and also the fact that they do not last very long.

Learn more: Survey on consumers' perception of counterfeiting

Unioncamere survey on counterfeiting in the footwear and optical merchandise sectors In December, 2011, as part of the activities included in the agreement initialled with the DGLC-UIBM, Unioncamere presented a fact-finding survey on consumers' perception of counterfeiting in Italy (1,000 sample interviews) and firms (1,000 sample interviews, production and sale sectors), with a focus on optical goods and footwear, two production sectors which account for a significant number/value of the counterfeit products seized each year, and the possible negative effects on consumers' health and safety.
The purpose of the survey was: 

  • discovering the perception of counterfeiting among consumers, manufacturing companies and in trade 
  • assessing the perceived importance in terms of lost revenues, measures adopted to fight counterfeiting and their effectiveness • assessing the relationship between manufacturers and sub-suppliers 
  • assessing consumers' attitude over whether or not to purchase counterfeit goods and conducting a quantitative assessment of purchases
  • discovering the opinion on the institutional measures adopted to fight counterfeiting.

Learn more: Survey on counterfeiting: focus on footwear and optical goods


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