Customs campaign against pirated goods raises awareness


Finnish Customs launched an extensive consumer information campaign against counterfeit and pirated goods to coincide with International Customs Day on January 26 2007. The theme of the International Customs Day this year was the battle against counterfeit goods and other IP rights violations. The fight against counterfeiting is among the new priorities of the European Union and the World Customs Organization because counterfeit goods and the economic crime connected to them pose a threat to people's safety. Besides preventing sales of counterfeit goods from one country to another, Customs play an important role in making consumers realize how harmful it is to buy counterfeit medicines, music recordings, electronics and clothing.

Finnish Customs has an active role in disseminating consumer information and monitoring against counterfeit goods due to the fact that Finland is located at the eastern border of the European Union, and is a gateway for the transit export trade to Russia. In 2005 counterfeit and pirated goods worth between €25 million and €30 million were seized in Finland. The enforcement team at Finnish Customs is constantly improving its efficiency in identifying counterfeit goods by participating in education arranged both by the authorities and IP rights owners, and by cooperating with customs administrations in different countries.

As a part of a broader, EU-wide consumer information project, Finnish Customs produced six posters about counterfeit goods, covering a range of products from medicines to baby food. The posters, which can be seen at airports, passenger terminals in harbours and border crossing points, inform consumers of the risks involved with counterfeit goods, and have forthright messages to consumers (eg, 'Gambling with your health', 'Buy pirated goods, support the drug trade', and 'Your job is at stake because of counterfeit products'). One of the posters for the campaign was designed by Tomi Putaansuu, also known as Mr Lordi, the front man of last year's Eurovision song contest winning group Lordi, who used strong language to make his message heard: 'A pirate copy is often cheaper than the original one. But the truth is that they are always pure crap. Buying pirated goods is robbing the livelihood of your favourite artists'.

The campaign has been welcomed by IP rights owners as well as people and organizations involved in the fight against counterfeit and pirated goods. The media has eagerly taken up the issue and it is still making headlines in Finland.

Johanna Salomäki, Berggren Oy Ab, Helsinki

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