Brussels, 9 July 2009
Customs: Commission publishes 2008 statistics of Customs actions to enforce intellectual property rights at the EU's external border
Statistics just published by the European Commission relating to goods infringing intellectual property rights (IPR), show for the sixth consecutive year a significant increase in customs activity. In 2008, customs registered over 49,000 cases of goods detained at the EU's external border, suspected of IPR infringements. Compared with 43,000 cases in 2007, this increase shows a further strengthening in cooperation between customs and industry, enabling customs to better target suspected shipments and to recognize IPR infringing goods. The number of articles detained more than doubled in 2008 to 178 million, of which about 20 million were potentially dangerous to the health and safety of European consumers.
László Kovács Commissioner for Taxation and Customs said "Combating trade of IPR infringing goods remains a top priority for customs administrations in the EU. The 2009-2012 Customs Action Plan, endorsed by the Council in March, is particularly welcome as it responds to the main challenges identified by customs, namely the potential dangerous nature of counterfeit goods, the links to organised crime, the globalisation of the issue and more recently the increasing problems posed to customs by the sale of counterfeits over the internet.”
The 2008 statistics show that:
- DVDs: +2600%
- medicines: + 118%
- cigarettes: + 54%
EU legislation (Council Regulation (EC) No 1383/2003) provides for Customs to temporarily detain any goods if they suspect that these goods infringe any intellectual property right, including patents. Under the customs legislation, Customs authorities do not decide whether goods are infringing IPR. The general procedure is to detain goods and subsequently inform the right holder of the detention. It is then up to the right holder to pursue the matter through a court, where appropriate, under national provisions. Only a national court has the power to establish if the goods infringe any Intellectual Property Right and, therefore, if they should be seized and possibly destroyed. However, under certain circumstances and with the agreement of both parties, the goods may be expeditiously destroyed, without recourse to a court.
If the right-holder does not initiate court procedures within the deadline determined by the customs legislation, the goods are released by customs.
For more information on the 2008 Customs seizures of counterfeit goods see: