Posted by Laura Ercoli on Wednesday September 28th, 2016

77 counterfeits a minute: the 2015 figures on EU customs enforcement of IP rights


77 counterfeit goods every minute: this is the rate at which products suspected of infringing IP rights are detained by EU customs upon entry.

The number is a revealing flash not only about the vast numbers of counterfeits arriving at EU borders daily, but also about the unsung war on fakes being fought every day by EU customs.

The Report on EU customs enforcement of intellectual property rights 2015, released last week, shows an increase of detained goods of over five million units (+ 14%). The overall value of detained goods also went up by over 4% from 617,046,337 euro in 2014 to 642,108,323 euro in 2015.

Applications for customs action against goods suspected of infringing intellectual property rights filed annually by IP right owners are also on the rise.

By applying for customs action, an IP right owner essentially provides EU customs authorities with information concerning the IP right and any other information that can help customs officers to identify goods infringing that right.

Customs can also take action ex officio, but it is obviously harder to spot fakes without cooperation from the IP right holder: ex officio interventions by EU customs to enforce IP rights in 2015 were little more than 2% of the total.

Given the numbers of goods detained for IP infringement, it is not surprising that applications for EU customs action have tripled over the last 10 years.

Top 10 detained product categories
The product categories that were detained in 2015 by EU customs for IP infringement by number of detained products:
1.    cigarettes
2.    toys
3.    labels, tags. stickers
4.    foodstuff
5.    other body care items
6.    packaging materials
7.    mobile phone accessories
8.    clothing,
9.    perfume and cosmetics
10.    medicines.

The top ten products by number of detention procedures are quite different, since the top positions are held by products that are typically sold online and sent by post or courier (77% of all detentions in 2015 concerned goods sold and sent through such channels):
1.    sports shoes
2.    bags, wallets, purses
3.    clothing
4.    non-sport shoes
5.    watches
6.    sunglasses
7.    mobile phone accessories
8.    toys
9.    clothing accessories
10.    other body care items.

Countries of provenance
The top 5 countries of provenance of goods suspected of infringing IP rights and detained in EU customs are China (41%), Montenegro (17.65%), Hong Kong (9.13%), Malaysia (8.66%), Benin (8.38%, Vietnam (3.38%) and India (1.95%).

In terms of overall value of detained goods, China comes first with 58.37%, followed by Hong Kong with 20.23% and by Malaysia, Turkey and Montenegro (5.19%, 4% e 3.48% respectively).

EU countries of detention
The report’s top 5 EU countries for number of detained items in 2015 shows Greece in the lead with over 6 million items, followed very closely by France, the Netherlands, Romania and Slovenia.

The top 5 EU countries for number of detentions is led by Germany followed by Belgium, the United Kingdom, Slovenia and Italy.

Trademarks and designs hit hardest
In line with previous years, most detained goods in 2015 were suspected of infringing trademark or design rights: 69% of total detentions and 59% in terms of goods value. Detentions were also based on patent rights (chiefly medicines, body care items and computers) and plant breeders’ rights (fruit).

Suspicions prove correct 91% of the time
EU customs officers are proving very efficient at spotting fakes: in 2015 only 14% of detained products turned out to be genuine. 91% suspension procedures resulted either in the destruction of the goods with the consent of the IP right owner, or in legal proceedings for the establishment of an infringement.

28 September 2016

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