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IPR, health and environment investigations

IPR, health and environment investigations

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One of OLAF’s main focuses is to investigate cases involving counterfeit goods from outside the EU and intellectual property rights (IPR).

Crime in this field, which generates vast illicit profits and huge losses of tax revenues due to the black market in fake goods, has increased dramatically in recent years. It harms the European economy by damaging legitimate businesses and stifling innovation, putting many jobs at risk in Europe.  

More often than not counterfeiting poses serious risks to the environment and the health and safety of citizens.

What does OLAF do?

The authorities in each EU country are responsible for enforcing EU law to tackle counterfeiting.

But to increase the efficiency of these efforts, and especially tackle international networks bringing counterfeit and pirated goods into the EU, and well as dismantle illegal factories, OLAF has powers to carry out administrative investigations. These sometimes involve participation in investigations run outside the EU.

Investigations

Due to limited resources, we only work on major cases involving counterfeit goods that pose a risk to the environment or public health and safety.

Recent examples include:

  • fake medicines – a joint operation coordinated by OLAF, seizing hundreds of thousands of counterfeit medicinal products and drugs. February 2021 - Press release
  • illicit refrigerant gases – OLAF helped Italian authorities seize 3.7 tonnes of illicit refrigerant gases. September 2020 - Press release
  • fake alcoholic beverages – a targeted action led by OLAF as part of a joint Europol-Interpol operation. July 2020 - Press release
  • COVID-19-related medicine/equipment (face masks, medical devices, disinfectants, sanitisers, medicines, test kits) December 2020 - Press release, May 2020 - Press release

You can find many more stories of success in tackling counterfeit goods in our press releases.

Intellectual property rights 

To improve the Commission-wide effort on counterfeits, we are developing a partnership with the industrial sectors represented in the European Observatory on Infringements of IPR.

Report infringements 

If you suspect intellectual property rights are being violated in a way that could impact EU public funds (revenue or spending), or harm the environment or public health and safety:

  1. Download & fill in this form
  2. Send it to:

European Commission

European Anti-Fraud Office

Unit B.2 Illicit Trade, Health and Environment - Operations and Investigations

B-1049 Brussels- Belgium

E-mail: OLAF-ANTICOUNTERFEIT@ec.europa.eu

We will assess whether there is a need for an OLAF investigation.

Rightholders who seek to protect their rights may also send a national application form or Union application form to the relevant customs authorities (see articles 3–9 and 29 in Council Regulation (EU) No 608/2013).

Legal basis