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EC Publishes Counterfeit Seizure Figures

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

13 November 2006

The European Commission on Friday published the latest Customs statistics, showing that counterfeiting and piracy continues to be a growing threat in Europe.

In 2005, EU Customs seized more than 75 million counterfeited and pirated goods. Foodstuffs, medicines and other goods that can seriously damage the health of consumers continue to be faked in large quantities.

According to the EC:

"Changes in the routes of fraud, an increased range of products being copied and the use of the internet in selling counterfeit goods make the customs job even more challenging. The European Commission response is being implemented via the Community's Anti-Counterfeiting Customs Action Plan."

"A secret wave of dangerous fakes is threatening the people in Europe," EU Taxation and Customs Commissioner László Kovács warned. He continued:

"The key is to be faster than the counterfeiters. We must quickly identify, and act to deal with, new routes of fraud and constantly changing counterfeit patterns to protect our health, safety and the economy."

For the first time ever, more than 5 million counterfeit foodstuff, drinks and alcohol products were seized, and more than 500,000 counterfeit medicines were seized in 2005.

According to Customs figures, most fakes are now household items rather than luxury goods, and the relative high quality of the products often makes identification impossible without technical expertise.

Since the launch of the Commission's Customs Action Plan to combat counterfeiting and piracy, the following actions have been initiated:

  • Targeted time limited Operational Customs Actions against Counterfeit are being launched at major ports and airports in Europe. A recently finalised Customs Action has already led to the seizure of more than 90 large maritime containers of fake products and more are expected.
  • An Anti-Counterfeit Task Force of top EU Customs Experts has been set up to improve targeted anti-counterfeit controls throughout Europe and to work in close co-operation with right holders, industry sectors concerned and third country experts.
  • A framework of exchange of information is being set up with a joint Business-Customs Working Group to rationalise the transmission of intelligence from rightholders to EU ports and airports and to exchange information on latest trafficking trends.
  • Amendments to the Community Customs law are in the process of adoption which will introduce an Integrated European Risk Management framework and help better target and stop high risk goods at the Community frontiers.
  • Operational co-operation with third country players, especially China and USA, is further strengthened through exchange of intelligence on latest trafficking trends and dangerous consignments.
  • The Commission together with Member States and key partners, seeks to improve the enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights protection by Customs and in particular to ensure that controls are also applied on exports, transit and transhipment movements in other regions.

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