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Brussels, 10 November 2006

Customs: Commission publishes 2005 Customs seizures of counterfeit goods

(see also MEMO/06/421)

The European Commission has published the latest Customs statistics showing that counterfeiting and piracy continues to be a growing threat in Europe. In 2005, EU Customs seized more than 75 million counterfeited and pirated goods. Dangerous fakes are on the march. Foodstuffs, medicines and other goods that can seriously damage the health of consumers continue to be faked in large quantities. Changes in the routes of fraud, an increased range of products being copied and the use of the internet in selling counterfeit goods make customs job even more challenging. The European Commission response is being implemented via the Community's Anti-Counterfeiting Customs Action Plan.

"A secret wave of dangerous fakes is threatening the people in Europe" warns EU Taxation and Customs Commissioner László Kovács. "The key is to be faster than the counterfeiters. We must quickly identify, and act to deal with, new routes of fraud and constantly changing counterfeit patterns to protect our health, safety and the economy."

Customs seized around 75 million articles in 2005, and the number of customs cases involving fakes increased to more than 26,000. Growth in seizures of fakes dangerous to health and safety also continued. For the first time ever, more than 5 million counterfeit foodstuff, drinks and alcohol products were seized. More than 500,000 counterfeit medicines were seized in 2005.

Most fakes are now household items rather than luxury goods and the high quality of fakes often makes identification impossible without technical expertise. The increasing use of internet to sell fakes (mainly medicines) increases the challenge customs face.

Since the launch of the Commission's Customs Action Plan to combat counterfeiting and piracy, the following actions have been initiated:

  • Targeted time limited Operational Customs Actions against Counterfeit are being launched at major ports and airports in Europe. A recently finalised Customs Action has already led to the seizure of more than 90 large maritime containers of fake products and more are expected.
  • An Anti-Counterfeit Task Force of top EU Customs Experts has been set up to improve targeted anti-counterfeit controls throughout Europe and to work with , in close co-operation with right holders, industry sectors concerned and third country experts.
  • A framework of exchange of information is being set up with a joint Business-Customs Working Group to rationalise the transmission of intelligence from rightholders to EU ports and airports and to exchange information on latest trafficking trends.
  • Amendments to the Community Customs law are in the process of adoption which will introduce an Integrated European Risk Management framework and help better target and stop high risk goods at the Community frontiers.
  • Operational co-operation with third country players, especially China and USA, is further strengthened through exchange of intelligence on latest trafficking trends and dangerous consignments.
  • The Commission together with Member States and key partners, seeks to improve the enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights protection by Customs and in particular to ensure that controls are also applied on exports, transit and transhipment movements in other regions.

For more information on the 2005 Customs seizures of counterfeited goods see:

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