European Commission publishes report on customs enforcement of IP rights in 2014

European Union

On October 27 2015 the European Commission published a report on EU Customs’ actions to enforce IP rights in 2014. These were the first statistics to be released following the entry into force, as of January 1 2014, of the new Regulation 608/2013 on border measures against counterfeiting and piracy.    

Using the data provided by the member states as a basis, the report provides the following figures with respect to customs seizures in the European Union in 2014:

  • There were 95,194 cases of customs detentions, 10% more than in 2013. This upsurge in seizures is due to the high number of small parcels sent via post or courier, likely on account of increased internet sales.
  • A total of 35,568,982 products were seized, which represents a 1% decrease compared to the number of goods seized in 2013.
  • The value of the seized goods amounted to €617,046,337, which represented a 19.6% drop compared to 2013.                            
  • China continued to be the main country of origin of infringing goods. However, other countries appeared as the main country of provenance for specific product categories - namely, Panama for alcoholic beverages, Morocco for other beverages, Thailand for ink cartridges and toners, and Hong Kong, China, for other body care items, mobile phones, CDs/DVDs and other tobacco products.  
  • The top categories of seized articles were cigarettes (35% of the overall amount), followed by toys (10%), medicines (8%), clothing (5%) and foodstuffs (4%).
  • Small consignments, sent by post and courier, constituted 81% of all detentions, with medicines being the top category in terms of number of articles detained in postal traffic (18%). 
  • Products for daily use and products that are potentially dangerous to consumer health and safety accounted for 28.6% of all detentions. 
  • Customs detention procedures resulted in the destruction of the goods in 92% of cases, either following an agreement between the importer of the goods and the IP rights holder, or following the institution of legal action. As regards the number of detained articles, 75% of them were destroyed and 24% of them were released. Goods were released either because the IP rights holder failed to react (18% of cases) or because they proved to be genuine (6%).  
  • Spain is still one of the top 10 EU countries in terms of the number of detention cases and the number of detained goods. However, there were 3,410 customs detention cases (a 15% drop compared to 2013) and a total of 1,619,264 products detained (a 54% decrease compared to 2013).

Respect for IP rights by Customs is a priority for the European Commission and the member states, and the annual publication of these customs statistics is a useful instrument to assess the level of involvement of Customs in this field in order to defend the competitiveness of European companies against the importation of IP rights infringing goods.          

Juan José Caselles Fornés, Elzaburu, Madrid

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