In an interview with Lefteris Adelinis on Radio Active, Yiorgos Stylianou of the Cyprus Consumer Association outlined how consumers can better protect themselves.
Piracy is an important issue for the EU as it not only harms companies and the economy more generally, but poses health and safety risks to consumers.
The Commission’s list focuses on webpages which offer products for sale which are protected by copyright, e-sale platforms as well as ‘online pharmacies’. It also listed outlets and shops outside the EU which sell counterfeits.
“The problem is the sellers on such platforms and how such internet platforms check or control whether such sales violate EU regulations,” Stylianou said.
He said that not only do buyers suffer a financial loss from the purchase of a counterfeit product, but so do manufacturers and copyright holders.
Moreover, he warned that the product purchased may actually never reach the buyer if it is blocked by authorities.
One important indication whether a product is counterfeit is a significant difference in price, he added. “We must be skeptical when a product is sold at an extraordinarily low price,” he said.
Buyers can also check whether the actual internet platform does sell authorised products. “Consumers must check very thoroughly before they place an order,” he said. As regards pharmaceuticals, he noted that medicine on sale online may have substances which are banned in the EU, and consumers should therefore be extra careful.
Prices may be attractive, but safety is paramount, so here too there must be very good market research including checking that the medicine bought on line is that prescribed by the doctor.
He also advised that those who do choose to buy online buy a small quantity so that they can then check the medicine with their doctor and to guard against the possibility that the website does not sell pirated products.
Making consumers aware of websites which sell pirated products helps protect not only consumers, but manufacturers as well as authorized sellers who otherwise face unfair competition.