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Monday, 4 August 2014

EC Reports on Annual Counterfeit Customs Enforcement; Counterfeits by Post Being Increasingly Targeted

The European Commission released its annual report on intellectual property rights customs enforcement last Friday that detailed recent statistics in EU counterfeit import detentions and general enforcement activities. Below are the main statistical trends highlighted in the report:

  • Number of Detained Goods and Their Retail Value Decreased; Clothing and Medicines Lead the Way. The number of detained counterfeit goods in the EU decreased 10% in 2013 over the previous year (35.9 million goods from 39.9 million goods). The retail value of detained goods also decreased 14% in 2013 over 2012 (€768 million from €896 million). Ready to wear clothing and medicine/health products were the most detained counterfeit good in volume, while watches and eyeglasses/sunglasses topped the list of detained goods in terms of value.
  • Number of Detention Cases Also DownThe number of EU counterfeit detention cases also decreased 4% in 2013 (86,854 cases in 2013 from 90,473 cases in 2012). Slovakia had the highest growth in counterfeit detention cases among EU member states in 2013 (550%; 507 cases in 2013 from 78 cases in 2012), while the Netherlands had the largest decrease in cases (-72%; 526 cases in 2013 from 1,852 cases in 2012).
  • Rights Holders Being More Proactive in EU Customs Enforcement. The number of rights holders applications for EU customs investigations (Applications for Action) rose 13% in 2013  (26,865 applications in 2013 from 23,134 applications in 2012), and representing a 61% growth since 2007 (10,260 applications). 
  • Surprise! China is Still the Main Source of Counterfeits Goods. China was again the leading source of detained counterfeit goods entering in the EU in 2013, representing nearly two-thirds (66%) of all detained goods, followed by Hong Kong (13%) and Greece (6%). 
  • Detained Counterfeit Goods Arriving via Post are Growing Fast, But Goods Arriving By Sea Still Lead. Counterfeit goods arriving via post were the largest and fastest growing amount of detention cases, representing 64% of all EU counterfeit detention cases in 2013, and nearly triple the amount of such cases from 2009. However, counterfeit goods arriving via post only represented 3% of all detained counterfeit goods by value, and 9% by volume, in 2013. Counterfeit goods arriving in the EU by sea accounted for 63% of all detained goods by volume and 66% by value in 2013.
  • UK and Germany Lead Detention Cases, Italy and Spain in Detained Articles. The United Kingdom and Germany led the EU in the number of detention cases in 2013, accounting for nearly half of all cases (roughly 24% of EU detention cases each). Italy and Spain led the amount of detained counterfeit goods by volume in 2013, totaling 14% and 10% of all detained goods respectively.
So what do these statistics tell us? First, it shows that rights holders are increasingly working with EU Customs authorities to prevent counterfeit goods utilizing their trade marks and other IP from entering the EU market as shown in the increase in the number of Applications for Action.

Yet the most important trend highlighted by these statistics is the increasing focus rights holders and EU Customs authorities have on preventing counterfeit goods arriving in the EU via post. Although accounting for only a minority of detained counterfeit goods entering the EU, the large and fast growing amount of detention cases against goods arriving in the EU via post shows that rights holders and EU Customs authorities are increasingly focused on stemming the flow of counterfeit goods arriving in the EU via post. This trend mirrors recent developments in other countries as global brands are increasingly cracking down on imported counterfeit goods via post as evidenced in recent U.S. counterfeit enforcement cases. Further, recent CJEU rulings and EU legislative proposals will likely give rights holders and EU Customs officials greater ability to detain suspected counterfeit goods arriving in the EU via post, making it more likely that such counterfeit goods will be increasingly targeted by EU Customs in the years to come.

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