In a survey of misuses of 22 brands, MarkMonitor said that it found that 73% of sites hosting counterfeit goods and 67% of sites offering pirated material were based in Western Europe or North America.
It said that these sites increased the complexity of their activities by typically sending goods from a different jurisdiction from that in which websites are hosted.
"In previous ‘test buys’ of prescription pharmaceutical products from some of these sites, MarkMonitor found that payment processing and order fulfilment took place in countries other than that used to host the site or register its domain name," said a MarkMonitor statement. "These findings demonstrate that while reliable infrastructure is a key factor for sites hosting piracy and counterfeit goods, many of these sites conduct business across multiple national boundaries.
MarkMonitor said that it researched piracy and counterfeiting activity related to 22 brands in businesses such as prescription drugs, luxury goods, music, films and sports equipment. It identified e-commerce and digital content sites and analysed the activity on them.
It estimated that sites offering such content receive 53 billion visits per year.
"Because of the small sample of brands used in the study, it provides a snapshot of the scope of online theft of intellectual property and illicit e-commerce," said a statement. "Given the large number of popular brands, it is reasonable to assume that hundreds of thousands of other rights-holders, brands and content creators are suffering the same damage."
“In the online world, unlike the physical world, supply and demand are virtually limitless so it is imperative to understand both online distribution channels as well as digital promotional vehicles in order to develop effective mitigation strategies,” said MarkMonitor chief executive Frederick Felman. “Examining traffic patterns and geographic information are vital in identifying and prioritizing enforcement actions rather than playing ‘whack-a-mole’ with egregious offenders.”