OHIM Study

EU Citizens Value Intellectual Property

Alicante (E), December 2013 - Some 96% of Europeans believe that intellectual property (IP) is important because it supports innovation and creativity by rewarding inventors, creators, and artists for their work. An EU-wide survey of 26,500 people aged fifteen and over, commissioned by the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) acting through the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights, found that 86% agree that protecting IP contributes to improving the quality of products and services.

And 69% of those questioned value IP because they believe it contributes to the creation of jobs and economic well-being. As a result, they condemn IP infringements.

However the survey, the first of its kind in the EU, shows that at individual level, an average of 34% of Europeans think that buying counterfeit goods can be justified to save money. Another 38% say purchasing counterfeits can be justified as an act of protest against a market-driven economy. Furthermore, 22% think downloading is acceptable when there is no legal alternative, while 42% of Europeans think this is acceptable for personal use.

These results are especially high for those aged between fifteen and twenty-four.

The difference between the two opinions can be explained, according to the survey, by the fact that many of those questioned believe that IP does not benefit them personally or that the IP system does not meet their expectations in areas like price, availability, diversity, and quality.

The study follows the release in September of a study carried out by OHIM and the European Patent Office showing that intellectual-property-rights-intensive industries support around 76 million jobs in the EU and generate 39% of all EU-wide economic activity.  

António Campinos, President of the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) said, "With these studies, we are now providing independent and reliable data, in line with the mission entrusted to us, on perceptions and behaviour of European citizens regarding intellectual property and its infringements. We will keep up this analysis on a continuous basis, particularly for the internet generation".

"As was recognised in the survey, IP is one of Europe’s most valuable assets, but it is also regularly challenged. European citizens do not feel it is their responsibility to protect IP, especially when others do not share the same values and ensure the rules are respected or adapted to people’s expectations. We trust these findings will support our collective efforts in the fight against IP infringements, in which everyone has a part to play".