EU report on counterfeit goods 'misleading'

CounterfeitThe International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has described an annual report on the seizure of counterfeit goods entering the European Union as 'surprising and disappointing'.

In a letter to Director-General of the Directorate General of Taxation and Customs Union (DG TAXUD), Heinz Zourek, the ICC flagged 'deep concern' over the focus of information in the report that "misleadingly suggests declining trade in counterfeit goods in the EU".

Noting that the report's conclusions were contrary to global trends, the frank letter stated that the report "undermined the efforts undertaken by those involved in the fight against counterfeit and pirated products, to alert policymakers to the scale of the problem and level of resources required to tackle it".

Jeffrey Hardy, director of the ICC initiative Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCAP), who signed the letter on behalf of BASCAP members, said: "It is critically important that EU leaders in the Commission, the European Parliament and in the Member States have a clear picture of the dangers and harms caused by counterfeiting and piracy and other infringement of intellectual property."

While not questioning the validity of the report's data, one example cited in the letter underscored the disparity between postal and courier traffic, which represent 72 per cent of detention cases but only 14 per cent of seized articles, and sea and port interventions which represent only 4.4 per cent of all detention cases but account for nearly two-thirds (62.2 per cent) of the total number of articles seized.

It is 'critically important' that EU leaders and Member States have a clear picture of the dangers and harms caused by counterfeiting and piracy, the ICC said.

The letter urged the addition of an addendum to future reports to note this disparity, stating that greater attention to sea/port interventions would likely result in different findings, especially given the massive scale of counterfeits being shipped through EU ports.

Calling on DG TAXUD to ensure that European leaders provide EU customs officers with appropriate tools and 'robust legislation' as the basis for improving their ability to adequately protect Europe from the illegal trade in counterfeit and pirated products, the letter also proposed measures to upgrade Europe's intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement regime.

This would include through measures including increased investment in IPR enforcement and increased resources to augment operational customs expertise. Proposed improvements also include provisions under EU legislation to enable national customs authorities to detain fake goods in transit and a shift in EU focus from larger containers to multiple small parcels consignments.

"We hope that our suggestions will be reflected in the proposed addendum and in future reports to put the data in the proper context and ensure that the report does not diminish the urgency of the need for action on these problems," the letter concluded.

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