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Protecting Intellectual Property Rights: Customs detain €1 billion worth
of fake goods at EU borders in 2012
EU Customs detained almost 40 million products suspected of violating
intellectual property rights (IPR) in 2012, according to the Commission's annual
report on customs actions to enforce IPR.
Although this is less than the 2011 figure, the value of the
intercepted goods is still high, at nearly €1 billion.
Today’s report also gives statistics on the type, provenance and
transport method of counterfeit products detained at the EU's external borders.
Cigarettes accounted for a large number of interceptions (31%),
miscellaneous goods (e.g. bottles, lamps, glue, batteries, washing powder) were
the next largest category (12%), followed by packaging materials (10%).
Postal and courier packages accounted for around 70% of customs
interventions in 2012, with 23% of the detentions in postal traffic concerning
Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Anti-fraud and
“Customs is the EU's first line of defence against fake products which
undermine legal businesses.
Today's report shows the intensity and importance of the work being
done by Customs in this field.
I will continue to push for even greater protection of intellectual
property rights in Europe, through our work with international partners, the
industry and Member States."
In terms of where the fake goods were coming from, China continued to
be the main source.
Other countries, however, were the top source for specific product
categories, such as Morocco for foodstuffs, Hong Kong for CD/DVDs and other
tobacco products (mainly electronic cigarettes and liquid fillings for them),
and Bulgaria for packaging materials.
Around 90% of all detained cases were either destroyed or a court case
was initiated to determine the infringement.
As the EU’s 2020 Strategy underlines, the protection of IPR is a
cornerstone of the EU economy and a key driver for its further growth in areas
such as research, innovation and employment.
Effective IPR enforcement is also essential for health and safety, as
certain counterfeited products (such as foodstuffs, body-care articles and
children’s toys) which are produced in an unregulated environment can pose a
serious threat to citizens.
EU Customs play a crucial role in stopping products which are suspected
of violating intellectual property rights from entering the EU.
Since 2000, the Commission has been publishing an annual report on the
activities of customs in relation to enforcing intellectual property rights.
These reports, based on data transmitted by the national customs
administrations to the Commission, are a valuable input to the analysis of IPR
infringement in the Union by customs and for EU institutions like the
Observatory on infringements of intellectual property rights.
In June 2013, a new Regulation on IPR enforcement at customs was
adopted (see MEMO/11/332 and MEMO/13/527).
This reinforces the rules for customs authorities to enforce
intellectual property rights.
On 10 December 2012, a new EU Customs Action Plan was adopted by
Council to combat intellectual property rights infringements for the years 2013
to 2017 (see MEMO/12/967).
The strategic objectives of this Action Plan are the following:
- Effectively implementing and monitoring the new EU legislation on
customs enforcement of IPR;
- Tackling trade of IPR infringing goods throughout the international
- Tackling major trends in trade of IPR infringing goods;
- Strengthening cooperation with the European Observatory on
infringements of IPRs
- and law enforcement authorities.