NEW REPORT ON EU CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT OF IPR
“Innovation and creativity are the engines of our economy. It is important to provide right-owners with the certainty that the fruits of their inventions will be protected. The competitiveness of European businesses depends on it.”
So reads the opening statement of the EU Commission’s report on EU customs enforcement of IPR in 2013. The report was published on July 31st, and describes the customs detentions of articles suspected of infringing intellectual property rights.
86.000 cases were registered by the European customs authorities – and nearly 36 million goods, with an estimated value of over € 768 million, were seized at the borders.
92% of the detained goods were destroyed, while only 3% of the goods were released because the goods turned out to be original and non-infringing. Once again, China is the main culprit, as 66% of the infringing goods came from China. Other countries are also on the list as top sources in specific product categories – such as Turkey for perfumes and Egypt for foodstuffs. The list also has some new additions – for example Ghana, who appears this year due to detentions of large shipments of batteries.
As in the previous years, the majority (93%) of the detained articles were suspected of infringing a trademark. Infringement of design and model rights accounted for 3% of the goods, mostly with an emphasize on toys and shoes, while infringement of patents accounted for 2,5% of the goods, mostly concerning medicines and audio/video apparatus.
In terms of numbers of detained articles, the top 3 categories were clothing, other goods (e.g. insecticides, light bulbs, glue and batteries) and medicine. These are all products often shipped in large quantities, which explains the high amount of articles.
In terms of cases, on the other hand, the top 3 categories were sport shoes, clothing and bags. These are everyday products bought online by consumers. The quantities may be smaller, but the demand is never-before-seen, and internet shopping makes it very easy for the infringers to sell their knock-off products.
Interestingly enough, the report also shows that nearly all detentions (97%) were based on an application of action from the rights holder. As of now, rights holders are able to lodge an application for action with the customs authorities, which requests customs to take action in cases where an IPR may be infringed.
The numbers show that rights holders are becoming more aware of the risks of infringement, and that they are taking the necessary steps to protect themselves and their products. Since 2007 the amount of applications for actions is more than doubled, and the increasing amount of detentions based on applications show the importance of close cooperation between customs and rights holders.
The full report by the EU Commission can be found here.