Brussels, 24 July 2012
Protecting Intellectual Property Rights: EU customs detain over 100 million fake goods at EU borders
In 2011, EU Customs detained almost 115 million products suspected of violating intellectual property rights (IPR) compared to 103 million in 2010. The number of intercepted cases increased by 15% compared to 2010. The value of the intercepted goods represented nearly €1.3 billion compared to €1.1 billion in 2010, according to the Commission's annual report on customs actions to enforce IPR. Today’s report also gives statistics on the type, origin and transport method of IPR infringing products detained at the EU's external borders. The top categories of articles stopped by customs were medicines (24%), packaging material (21%) and cigarettes (18%). Products for daily use and products that could be potentially dangerous to the health and safety of consumers accounted for a total of 28.6% of the total amount of detained articles, compared to 14.5% in 2010. The increase in number of detained postal packages continued in 2011, with 36% of the detentions concerning medicines.
Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Anti-fraud and Audit said: “Customs is the EU's first line of defence against fake products which threaten the safety of our citizens and 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 originated, China continued to be the main source, accounting for 73% of all IPR infringing articles. For certain product categories other countries remain the main sources such as Turkey for foodstuffs, Panama for alcoholic drinks, Thailand for soft drinks and Hong Kong for mobile phones. Around 90% of all detained products 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 violate intellectual property rights from entering the EU. A number of actions are being carried out by the Commission to strengthen Customs’ ability to combat such trade. On 24 May 2011, the Commission adopted a proposal for a new regulation on customs enforcement of IPR, as part of a comprehensive package of IPR measures (see IP/11/ 630, MEMO/11/327).
Good cooperation with trading partners can also significantly help in preventing the export of IPR infringing goods to the EU. In 2009, the EU signed an Action Plan with China which specifically focuses on enhancing cooperation in IPR customs enforcement (IP/09/193). In 2010, this Action Plan was extended until the end of 2012 (IP/10/1079). Cooperation with industry is also very important to ensure that goods which violate IPR can be properly identified. Businesses can request customs action where they suspect that their intellectual property rights are being violated, and the information provided by industry helps customs to better target their controls. The Commission has established a manual for right holders, to help them to lodge such requests.
For the full report, see:
See also MEMO/12/592
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