Commission puts forward the proposal to provide greater customs protection for Intellectual Property Rights
Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner responsible for Customs said:
"Customs are ideally placed at the border, to protect citizens and legitimate businesses and their contribution is highly valuable in fighting counterfeiting and piracy".
He added: "I am convinced that a robust system of intellectual property rights is essential for the whole EU economy. With today's proposal, customs will be able to provide greater protection for IPR and to better tackle the trade in IPR infringing goods."
The Commission has adopted today a comprehensive strategy to revamp the legal framework in which Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) operate. The objective is to enable inventors, creators, users and consumers to adapt to the new circumstances and to enhance new business opportunities. Among the first deliverables of this IPR overall strategy is today's proposal for a new regulation to reinforce customs actions in fighting trade of IPR infringing goods.
Customs supervise all trade crossing EU external borders: they carry out controls for many purposes and have an essential role in fighting the trade in IPR infringing goods. In 2009 only, customs intercepted over 40 000 suspect shipments involving 118 million articles. Whilst the majority of goods intercepted are counterfeit or pirated, customs' unique position at the border allows for the enforcement of a wide range of intellectual property rights. As part of today's overall IPR strategy, the Commission also proposes a new customs regulation, to further reinforce the legal framework for customs' actions. The proposal also aims to tackle the trade in small consignments of counterfeit goods sent by post as the overwhelming majority of these goods results from internet sales.
Counterfeiting and piracy are a growing threat for the economy. Between 2005 and 2009, the number of registered cases at the EU borders of goods suspected of infringing IPR increased from 26 704 to 43 572. Meanwhile, the creative industry estimates that piracy has cost the European music, movie, TV and software industry €10 billion and more than 185 000 jobs in 2008 alone. The Commission is set to intensify its efforts in this area.
Background: IPR is a cornerstone of the EU economy and a key driver for its further growth. In 2009, the value of the top 10 brands in EU countries amounted to almost 9% of GDP on average. Copyright-based creative industries such as software, book and newspaper publishing, music and film, contributed 3.3% to EU GDP in 2006 and account for approximately 1.4 million SMEs, representing 8.5 million jobs. Employment in "knowledge-economy" industries increased by 24% between 1996 and 2006 compared to 6% for other industries.
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