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European Commission - Press release

New report highlights crucial role of EU customs authorities in fighting against counterfeit goods

Brussels, 27 October 2015

New figures published today point to the pivotal role of EU customs administrations in the fight against counterfeit goods.

Authorities detained 35.5 million individual items of fake or counterfeit goods in 2014 with an overall total value of over €617 million. The statistics are contained in a report published by the European Commission on the enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in the EU. According to the report, which cites figures for 2014, the high number of detentions can be linked to the large amount of small parcels in express and postal traffic due to the rise in internet sales. Information is also included on the categories of goods detained, on their countries of origin and on the modes of transport used to ship such goods. 

Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: "The protection of intellectual property should be a priority if we are serious about promoting innovation and creativity within the EU. This is also key for the health and safety of European consumers and for job creation. Our customs authorities carry out vital front line work in fighting against the import of counterfeit goods and the infringement of intellectual property rights."

Cigarettes represent the top category (35%) of articles detained, followed by toys and medicines. Everyday products which are potentially dangerous to health and safety of consumers like food and beverages, toiletries, medicines, toys and household electrical goods account jointly for 28.6% of the total. As in previous years, China was the primary originating country (80%) for counterfeit goods, followed by Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, Turkey and India. 

Peru was the originating country of a large amount of fruit which infringed on Community Plant Variety Rights, while Panama was the top source for counterfeit alcoholic beverages. Thailand was in the lead for fake ink cartridges and Malaysia topped the list for counterfeit mobile phone accessories. In more than 90% of detentions, goods were either destroyed or a court case was initiated to determine an infringement. 

The Commission's report on customs actions to enforce IPR has been issued annually since 2000 and is based on data transmitted by Member States' customs administrations to the Commission. The report also provides valuable information which can support the analysis of IPR infringements affecting the EU market and the development of appropriate counter-measures - for example, statistics can be shared with originating countries in order to better address and identify infringements.

New customs rules

In June 2013, a new Regulation on IPR enforcement at customs was adopted (see MEMO/11/332 and MEMO/13/526). This Regulation has been applicable across the EU since 1 January 2015 and strengthens the rules to protect intellectual property. 
The main changes introduced to customs rules were the following:

–​        A change to the procedure for the destruction of goods suspected of infringing intellectual property. Such goods can now be destroyed by customs control when they are suspected of infringing an IPR, and without the need to initiate a legal proceeding to determine the existence of an infringement. 

–        The introduction of a new procedure for the simplified destruction of small consignments. Such procedures may be applied, provided that the right-holder of an intellectual property has asked for it to be applied if an infringement occurs.

As a result of this new procedure on small consignments, the overall number of detentions increased in 2014 – proof of its success in facilitating the destruction of goods shipped by post or express courier without imposing excessive administrative burdens on customs authorities and on right-holders.

Since 2014, the EU customs notices are administered through an online database – the anti-Counterfeit and anti-Piracy Information System (COPIS), which is used by customs authorities to register the applications for actions from rights-holders and all infringements. Each case is registered according to the category of goods and right-holder.


For the full report, see:

See also: MEMO/15/5921

Intellectual Property in the EU:

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