Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Anti-fraud and Audit said: “We have experienced a spectacular increase of detentions in the postal traffic since last year: the number of cases tripled from 15,000 to over 48,000 and many of the seized goods included medicines and body care products. This upward trend reflects a growing number of online purchases." He added: "I proposed new rules in May to step up the fight against fakes. European consumers – as well as right holders - expect goods to be thoroughly checked and safe. We will continue to step up our efforts within the EU and with our international partners to ensure the maximum level of protection for IPR for both legitimate businesses and consumers".
Regarding the countries of provenance, China continued to be the main source of IPR infringing products, totalling 85% of all IPR infringing articles. Other countries such as Turkey, Thailand, Hong Kong or India accounted for the majority in certain product categories (respectively foodstuffs, beverages other than alcoholic beverages, memory cards and medicines). 90% of all detained products were either destroyed or a court case was initiated to determine the infringement.
As the EU’s 2020 Strategy underlines, the protection of IPR is a cornerstone of the EU economy and a key driver for its further growth in areas such as research, innovation and unemployment. Effective IPR enforcement is also essential as certain counterfeited products (such as foodstuffs, body-care articles and children’s items) which are produced in an unregulated environment can pose a serious threat to the health and safety of EU citizens.
EU Customs play a crucial role in stopping products which violate intellectual property rights from entering the European Internal Market. A number of actions are being carried out by the Commission to strengthen Customs’ ability to combat such trade. On 24 May 2011, the Commission adopted a proposal for a new regulation on customs enforcement of IPR, as part of a comprehensive package of IPR measures (see IP 11/ 630, MEMO 11/327).
Good cooperation with international trading partners can also significantly help in preventing and detecting IPR infringing goods from being exported to the EU. In 2009, the EU signed an Action Plan with China which specifically focuses on enhancing cooperation in IPR customs enforcement (IP/09/193). In 2010, this Action Plan was extended until the end of 2012 (IP/10/1079). Cooperation with industry is also very important to ensure that goods which violate IPR can be properly identified. Businesses can request specific customs actions where they suspect that their intellectual property rights are being violated, and the information provided by industry helps customs to better target their controls. The Commission has established a manual for right holders, to help them to lodge such requests, and remains in close contact with the private sector to see where further improvements in controls could be made.
David Boublil (+32 2 296 55 73)
Maud Scelo (+32 2 298 15 21)
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