On July 31, the European Commission – Directorate-General Taxation and Customs Union (TAXUD) published its latest report describing the customs detentions of articles suspected of infringing intellectual property rights (IPR), including trademarks, copyrights and patents.
Nearly 36 million counterfeit goods—at an estimated value of over €768 million—were seized at the EU borders in 2013. Nearly 87,000 detention cases were registered by Customs, most of which were incidents involving small parcels in express and postal traffic (70% of the detention of products), most probably as a result of Internet sales.
The top categories of goods detained were clothing (12%) and medicines (10%), followed by insecticides, polish, lamps, glue, batteries and washing powder.
The statistics also showed that more than 90% of fake goods seized were destroyed. In almost 8% of cases, the goods were released because they appeared to be non-infringing original goods or because no action was undertaken by the right holder after receiving notification by the Customs authorities.
While China was still the main source of counterfeit products in 2013, other countries were the top sources in specific product categories, such as Turkey for perfumes and cosmetics and Egypt for foodstuffs. As explained in the report, the European Commission continues to engage and cooperate with third countries on IPR protection and enforcement, making reference to the recently signed EU-China Customs Action Plan.
Commenting on the findings, Algirdas Šemeta, EU Commissioner responsible for customs, taxation, anti-fraud and audit, emphasized that protecting IPRs “is not only important for health and safety of European consumers but also supports growth and job creation in the EU.” The full report can be accessed here.