Industry Updates

Report Shows Seizures at EU Borders Rose Significantly in 2019

Published: December 21, 2020

Customs seizures at EU borders of articles suspected of infringing intellectual property rights (IPR) such as trademarks, copyrights, and patents skyrocketed in 2019, according to the just-released Report on the EU Customs Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights – Results at the Borders, 2019.

The EU Commission’s Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union (DG TAXUD) published its annual report on December 17.

Overall, in 2019, Member State customs authorities reported a 53 percent increase in seizures compared to the previous year, with more than 90,000 seizures of goods consisting of nearly 41 million individual items that infringed on IPR. The domestic retail value of goods seized at EU borders was € 760 million, up € 20 million over 2018.

Among the other main findings in the report:

  • Cigarettes remain one of the top product categories of seized goods. The main categories of seized goods continue to be cigarettes (21%) and packaging material (14%). Other goods, including huge quantities of matches (23%), toys (10%), and clothes (4%) account for the remaining top categories by number of detained articles.  In terms of detention procedures, the top categories are clothing and sports shoes, followed by  perfumes and cosmetics. The goods were eventually destroyed in 85 percent of seizures.
  • China remains a top source country. Regarding the origin of the counterfeit goods, China is the main source country in terms of the number (33%) and value (56%) of goods seized. As in previous years, Turkey and Hong Kong follow behind on both measures. Pakistan (for matches) and Moldova (for packaging material for cigarettes) ranked highest in terms of the number of articles, and Morocco (for watches), Senegal (for clothing), and Serbia (for hookah tobacco) were among the top countries in terms of value of goods infringing IPR.
  • Courier and postal traffic lead detentions. Courier and postal traffic together accounted for 85 percent of all detention cases. Individual items detained were mainly consumer articles ordered via e-commerce, such as shoes, clothing, and toys.
  • Counterfeits pose health and safety concerns. Counterfeit products for daily use that are potentially dangerous to the health and safety of consumers account for nearly 16 percent of the total amount of detained individual items They include food and beverages, body care articles, medicines, electrical household goods, and toys.

Given the findings of this new study, public education and strong IPR protection remain important tools for highlighting the value of trademarks and preventing the proliferation of counterfeit goods.

INTA advocates at the national and international levels to strengthen anticounterfeiting laws and enforcement, to increase governments’ cooperation to eliminate linkages between counterfeiting and organized crime, and to emphasize the serious threats posed by counterfeiting to the health and safety of consumers, economies, and national security.

In addition, the Association supports the development and passage of legislation, regulations, and trade agreements throughout the world that increase national and international enforcement mechanisms against counterfeiting. Through the organization’s Anticounterfeiting Committee, the Unreal Campaign Committee, and partnerships with governments and other organizations, INTA emphasizes the importance of strong anticounterfeiting measures and increased awareness of the harms of counterfeiting.

In particular, in order to tackle dangerous counterfeits with negative impact on health and safety, INTA is advocating for the inclusion of counterfeits as unsafe and dangerous products in the upcoming review of the General Product Safety Directive (“GPSD”- 2001/95/EC).

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of this article, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest. 

© 2020 International Trademark Association