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EU IP-Related Seizures Surge

by Ulrika Lomas, LawAndTax-News.com, Brussels

20 July 2011


According to the European Commission's annual report on European Union (EU) customs enforcement, more than 103m products suspected of violating intellectual property rights (IPR) were seized at the Europe's external borders in 2010.

The number of shipments stopped by customs almost doubled compared to the previous year, rising from 43,500 in 2009 to almost 80,000 last year. For the first time, the report also indicates the value of the goods detained, which is estimated at over EUR1bn (USD1.4bn).

The top categories of articles stopped by customs were cigarettes (34%), office supplies (9%) other tobacco products (8%), labels, tags and emblems (8%), clothing (7%) and toys (7%). 14.5% of all detained articles were household products such as shampoos, soaps, medicines or household appliances (such as hair dryers, shavers and computer parts), which could potentially have health and safety implications for consumers. One of the major trends has been the growing number of detentions of postal packages.

Algirdas Šemeta, the European Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Anti-fraud and Audit said: “We have experienced a spectacular increase of detentions in the postal traffic since last year: the number of cases tripled from 15,000 to over 48,000 and many of the seized goods included medicines and body care products. This upward trend reflects a growing number of online purchases."

He added that he proposed new rules in May to step up the fight against fakes. "European consumers – as well as rights holders - expect goods to be thoroughly checked and safe. We will continue to step up our efforts within the EU and with our international partners to ensure the maximum level of protection for IPR for both legitimate businesses and consumers," he said.

Regarding the countries of provenance, China continued to be the main source of IPR infringing products, totalling 85% of all IPR infringing articles. Other countries such as Turkey, Thailand, Hong Kong and India accounted for the majority in certain product categories (respectively foodstuffs, beverages other than alcoholic beverages, memory cards and medicines).

TAGS: compliance | business | European Commission | India | commerce | law | intellectual property | China | Thailand | enforcement | food | e-commerce | Hong Kong | European Union (EU) | Turkey | Europe

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