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Fake goods worth 1 billion euro (GBP 867m) seized at EU borders in 2012
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Almost 40 million products suspected of violating intellectual property rights were detained by EU customs in 2012, according to the Commission's annual report on customs actions. This is less than in 2011, but the value of the intercepted goods is still high, at nearly €1 billion. China continues to be the main source of fakes.

Cigarettes (30.86 per cent) were the most frequently detained item. Other goods include bottles, lamps, glue, batteries and washing powders accounted for 11.76 per cent and packaging materials 9.84 per cent.

    Fake goods worth 1 billion euro (GBP 867m) seized at EU borders in 2012

    Most fake items (70 per cent) were detained through postal services and courier packages, with medicines accounting for 23 per cent.

    In the UK, 4,032,550 articles were detained during 2012, a 13 per cent drop from 2011 (4,653,454), but still amongst some of the highest EU reporting figures. Italy recorded the highest number of articles seized (6,108,760) - a drop of 80 per cent on 2011 figures - followed by Malta (6,065,155), Spain (3,140,722), Germany (2,470,331) and Belgium (2,310,620).

    The top five products in the UK, accounting for 75 per cent of seizures, included:

    • packaging material (ie cardboard boxes, such as cereals)
    • clothing
    • perfumes and cosmetics
    • toys
    • parts and accessories for mobile phones

    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 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."

    Whilst China continued to be the main source, Morocco was the top source for foodstuffs, Hong Kong for CD/DVDs and other tobacco products (mainly electronic cigarettes and liquid fillings for them), and Bulgaria for packaging materials.

    Around 90% of all detained cases were either destroyed or a court case was initiated to determine the infringement.


    EU Customs play a crucial role in stopping products which are suspected of violating intellectual property rights from entering the EU. Since 2000, the Commission has been publishing an annual report on the activities of customs in relation to enforcing intellectual property rights. These reports, based on data transmitted by the national customs administrations to the Commission, are a valuable input to the analysis of IPR infringement in the Union by customs and for EU institutions like the Observatory on infringements of intellectual property rights.

    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 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.

    In June 2013, a new regulation on IPR enforcement at customs was adopted (MEMO/11/332 and MEMO/13/527) to better equip customs authorities to enforce intellectual property rights and ensure certainty for inventors that the fruits of their creations are protection.

    An EU Customs Action Plan was adopted by Council in December 2012 to combat intellectual property rights infringements for the years 2013 to 2017 (MEMO/12/967).


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    Please note: all amounts expressed in sterling are for information purposes only.

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    Last update: 06/08/2013  |Top