A U.S. watchdog has cast serious doubt on US government figures on Chinese counterfeit production and IP infringement. The U.S. Government Accountability Office says the widely cited data aren't reliable.
In 2002, the Federal Bureau of Investigation claimed counterfeiting and forgery in some countries caused the U.S. economic losses of 200 to 250 billion U.S. dollars. Since then, the figure has been commonly referred to.
But the U.S. Government Accountability Office says FBI officials couldn't find any records of the figure's source or the calculation method used. The data's accuracy and reliability is now in doubt.
Chinese experts are concerned over this latest development.
Li Mingde, Director of Center for Studies of IPR, CASS said "If the FBI's figure is problematic, then IP-related numbers released by other U.S. organizations over the past decade could also be unreliable. But U.S. policy makers often use this data to draft policies against developing countries, including China. How much credibility does a policy have if it's based on unreliable numbers?"
Mao Jinsheng, Director of IP Dev't Research Center, State IP Office said "The reputation of the FBI made these figures very reliable. Now the agency itself has destroyed that credibility. These figures also cause incalculable losses for developing nations, including China."
The accountability office report also cast doubt on figures released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in 2002.
These figures indicated fake goods caused the country to lose 200 billion dollars in revenue, and 750 thousand jobs a year.
The report says the agency stopped using these figures in 2009, due to lack of source attribution and reliability. But the numbers are still used by an organization under Homeland Security.
IP experts have also weighed in on the debate.
Li Mingde said "In global trade, countries like the U.S. profit primarily from technology, trademark and branding advantages. Countries like China are entry-level assemblers. The different roles mean low-requirement jobs are in developing countries. So how can the U.S. lose jobs it doesn't have?"
The report is seen as one of the first attempts by the U.S. government to understand the size and scope of pirated and counterfeited goods, and to determine how piracy's effects on the nation can be measured.
Experts also say it potentially undermines efforts by copyright groups to tie illegal file sharing to the ailing U.S. economy.
- US GAO finds false auto industry figure 2010-08-12