EU customs seizures down in 2012

Customs signEU customs detained around 40m products suspected of infringing intellectual property rights in 2012, around one third of the number seized in 2011.

The difference in the domestic retail value (DRV) of goods seized was less stark, however, with 2012's tally of around €1bn not too far shy of the €1.3bn seized the prior year, says the annual report from the European Commission.

Meanwhile, the number of request for action received by customs from right-holders was up around 12 per cent.

Cigarettes topped the list of seized items, accounting for 30 per cent of the total, with packaging materials making up 9 per cent followed by clothing at 8 per cent, toys at 4 per cent and cosmetics/perfumes at 3 per cent.

Around 11 per cent of the detained products were a miscellaneous group including bottles, lamps, glue, batteries and washing powder.

"The most important decreases have been taking place in the following categories: medicines, cigarettes, packaging material and other products," says the report, although it notes that year-to-year fluctuations in the number of articles detained often skew the results.

Looking specifically at small consignments sent via postal and courier services - which accounted for 70 per cent of all seizures -  the top category was pharmaceuticals at 23 per cent of the total, followed by shoes, personal accessories like bags and wallets, clothing, and audio/video equipment.

China was once again the main source of suspect goods, but it was notable that Morocco was the origin of a high proportion of foodstuffs and Bulgaria emerged as a source of illicit packaging materials and Moldova appearing n the top countries list for the first time as a source of seized cigarette shipments.

Seizure data 2012

Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Anti-fraud and Audit Algirdas Šemeta, said the report "shows the intensity and importance of the work being done by customs in this field."

In June, the EU adopted a new regulation on IPR enforcement at customs to help bolster the powers of customs across the EU, including the ability to destroy counterfeit goods without legal proceedings, providing the brand holder and person buying the goods agree.

All told, pirated and counterfeit products are estimated to cost European businesses €250bn a year, with some - such as medicines, foods and beverages, cosmetics and toys - posing a serious risk to public health and safety.
"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," said Šemeta.

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