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EU customs detain 115 Million fake products in 2011
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In 2011 EU Member States' customs detained 115 million fake products – over 70% of them from China. Products detained were worth over £1 billion (EUR 1.3 bn) and were held in over 91 000 separate incidents, according to a European Commission report today. UK customs accounted for more incidents – nearly 33 000, 36% of the EU total - where goods were detained than any other EU Member State. However, the highest total number of articles were intercepted by Bulgarian and Italian customs.

    EU customs detain 115 Million fake products in 2011

    The top categories of articles stopped by customs were medicines (24%), packaging material (21%) and cigarettes (18%).

    There has been an eighteen-fold increase since 2001 in numbers of incidents where articles are detained. Much of it is due to the rise of e-commerce which has seen an increasing number of small packages sent by mail. Over half the cases where products were intercepted in 2011 (56%) involved transport by post or mail courier. 

    But larger sea and road shipments still account for the vast majority of total articles. There has not been a similarly dramatic and sustained rise in the overall number of articles intercepted, which are "only" 21% up on 2001, despite an increase of 11.7 per cent in numbers and 18 per cent in value in 2011. Numbers remain well down from the peak of 179 million in 2008.

    Most of the fake goods continue to come from China, which accounts for 73% of the total number of articles in 2011 – or over 80% if Hong Kong is included.

    Algirdas Ĺ emeta, Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Anti-fraud and Audit said: “Customs is the EU's first line of defence against fake products which threaten the safety of our citizens and undermine legal businesses. Today's report shows the intensity and importance of the work being done by Customs in this field. I will continue to push for even greater protection of intellectual property rights in Europe, through our work with international partners, the industry and Member States."


    As the EU's Europe 2020 Strategy underlines, the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) is a cornerstone of the EU economy and a key driver for its further growth in areas such as research, innovation and employment. Effective IPR enforcement is also essential for health and safety, as certain counterfeited products (such as foodstuffs, body-care articles and children’s toys) which are produced in an unregulated environment can pose a serious threat to citizens.

    EU Customs play a crucial role in stopping products which violate intellectual property rights from entering the EU. 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 trading partners can also significantly help in preventing the export of IPR infringing goods 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 customs action 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.


    For more information, please contact the London press office on 020 7973 1971.
    Please note: all amounts expressed in sterling are for information purposes only.

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    Last update: 25/07/2012  |Top