Over 115 mn fake products detained at EU borders in 2011
By Anca Gurzu | Tuesday 24 July 2012
Customs officials stationed along the European Union’s external borders seized over 115 million fake products in 2011, 15% more than a year earlier, says the European Commission’s annual report on customs actions to enforce intellectual property rights (IPR), released on 24 July. While China topped the list of source countries for counterfeit goods last year, several EU member states also featured as countries of origin for different categories of fake products.
As the quality and diversity of counterfeit products are increasing, the European Commission is emphasising the industry’s important role in tipping off officials about IPR infringements.
Custom authorities across the member states dealt with more than 91,000 cases last year, detaining almost 115 million fake articles, according to the report. In 2010, national authorities had only about 80,000 cases to deal with, with a total seizure of about 103 million articles.
The value of the intercepted goods was around €1.3 billion, compared to €1.1 billion in 2010. The Commission noted that the increase in the number of cases results from an increase in detentions from postal and courier traffic, the latter being directly related to internet sales.
The top categories of counterfeit products stopped at customs were medicines (24%), packaging material (21%), cigarettes (18%), clothing and mobile phone accessories. The most popular falsified medicines are lifestyle medicines, such as diet pills or Viagra, but other types, such as pain killers, anti-depressants or antibiotics, are also becoming more common.
Overall, China continued to be the main source country for suspected counterfeit goods entering the EU, accounting for 73% of all seized articles in 2011. In specific product categories, Turkey topped the list for foodstuffs, Panama for alcoholic beverages, Thailand for non-alcoholic beverages, Hong Kong for mobile phones, accessories and computer equipment and Syria for recorded CDs and DVDs.
An EU member state also made it to the top ten list of countries where the seized articles originated from. Almost 5% all detained products originated in Greece, beating India (3.29%). While Panama was the main source country for counterfeit alcoholic beverages in 2011, representing about 53% of all seized products in this category, Belgium came in at number two with 47.21%. Similarly, Germany came in at number two as a source country for counterfeit mobile phones (30.5%) after Hong Kong (57%). With around 3% or 4% each, Finland and Latvia also made it to the list in the category of counterfeit shoes, while Romania was listed for counterfeit machines and tools.
The United Kingdom dealt with the highest number of cases last year (almost 33,000), representing almost half of the total. The countries that seized the highest number of articles in 2011 were Bulgaria and Italy (between 25% and 30% of the total each).
Counterfeit products that could potentially be dangerous to the health of consumers, such as foodstuffs and beverages, body care articles and medicines, accounted for 28.6% of all seized goods, compared to 14.5% in 2010. This is mainly due to the overall increase in the circulation of counterfeit medicines last year, according to the report.
In 90% of the cases, the confiscated goods were either destroyed or the IP rights holder initiated a court case to establish the IPR infringement. In 7.5% of the cases the confiscated goods were subsequently released either because there was no IPR infringement or because the rights holder took no action.
The majority of the articles were detained pending trademark infringement verification, but there were also suspected cases of design rights, patent rights or copyright infringements.
The Commission report also notes that IPR-infringing goods have substantially improved and that the number of counterfeit technical products is increasing.
The report is available at
www.europolitics.info > Search = 319299