On July 20, 2017, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union (DG TAXUD) released its annual report on customs enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRs) at EU borders.
There were 63,000 detentions in 2016 (81,000 in 2015), for a total of 41.3 million articles (43.7 in 2015), representing a value of more than 672 million euros (640 million in 2015). IPR infringement in general, and counterfeiting in particular, remains a wide and important phenomenon even though customs’ performance at tackling it seemed to have improved (the number of intercepted articles rose by 2% compared with 2015).
Among other findings the European Commission reported:
This report is a facts-and-figures document (covering the year 2016) and does not entail any policy or political recommendation. It is mainly aimed at feeding information to customs authorities to ultimately help them better understand their shortcomings and areas of recent improvement with regard to customs enforcement of IPRs.
- An increase in the detention of fake daily-use products with a potential to harm consumers (such as food and beverages, body care articles, medicines, electrical household goods, and toys). They accounted for 34.2% of the total number of detained articles in 2016 (an increase from 25.8% in 2015).
- Cigarettes made up the largest category (24%) of articles detained, followed closely by toys (17%), foodstuffs (13%), and packaging material (12%).
- China remains the highest-ranking country of origin of fake goods (80% of total). Hong Kong (7.76%), Pakistan (1.71%), and Vietnam (1.71%) also stand on the podium, followed by Cambodia (1.5%), Turkey (1.09%), and India (1.08%).
- Although detentions in postal traffic went down 28%, courier traffic and postal traffic together still accounted for 73% of all detentions.
- In 82% of the detention procedures started by customs, the goods were destroyed after the owner of the goods and the right holder agreed on destruction. In 8% of the detentions, a court case was started to determine the infringement or as part of criminal proceedings.
- Regarding what happened to seized articles, 77% of the articles were destroyed or were subject to proceedings. However, 23% of the articles were released because the right holder did not react to the notification by customs (8%) or the goods were eventually found to be original goods (15%).
The report was presented by Pierre Moscovici, EU Commissioner responsible for customs. He stressed: “Fake goods pose a real threat to the health and safety of EU consumers and also undermine legal businesses and state revenues.” He added that “cooperation between law enforcement authorities should be strengthened and risk management systems upgraded to protect the EU from goods infringing on intellectual property rights.” This is an approach equally shared and advocated by INTA (more recently at the July 6 meeting between DG TAXUD and stakeholders, reported in the INTA Bulletin here).
For more information on INTA’s anticounterfeiting activities in Europe, please contact INTA Manager Maysa Razavi at email@example.com.