For several years, I have written about the lack of reliability of data on counterfeiting. The RCMP cited data without any factual basis, while other groups regularly made claims without support, such as reports from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Conference Board of Canada. Of course, this phenomenon was not limited to Canada. The US Patent and Trademark Office relied on the same data to claim 7 – 8 % of world trade is counterfeit, while a report from the first Global Congress on Counterfeiting, which led to ACTA, pointed to FBI data it said showed counterfeiting at US$200 – 250 billion per year.
This week a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office concludes that estimates such as these are not reliable and cannot be substantiated to a data source. The U.S. GAO was required by Congress to try to quantify the impact of counterfeit and pirated goods. While concluding that counterfeiting exists and is a problem, the GAO could not find reliable data. Its review of commonly cited claims: