Sep 4, 2013
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Counterfeiting: seizures in Europe fall steeply in 2012

Sep 4, 2013

Only 40 million counterfeit products were seized in 2012 at the European Union’s borders, a “free fall” of 65% that UNIFAB (an association of manufacturers for the international protection of intellectual property) blames on the European Court of Justice’s Nokia/Philips decision. The decision permits customs inspections but prohibits the seizure of goods that are merely transiting through Europe.

Top categories of products seized by the EU in 2012, by cases

The decline in seizures exceeds even the alarming numbers projected at the end of 2011 when the European Court of Justice rendered its decision. In France, the number of seized counterfeits fell by 76%. Italy (-80%), Belgium (-46%) and Spain (-43%) were also seriously affected.

Authorities worry – and not without reason – that the situation is endangering non-European consumers. Thirteen (13%) percent of illegal goods not subject to seizure were identified as health hazards. Cigarettes remain at the top of the list of counterfeit goods (30.8%). Clothing came in fourth place at 8% of seizures. Perfumes and cosmetics were sixth, at 3% of intercepted goods.

Clothing also represents two-thirds of the items seized from packages destined for individual consumers. In terms of the value of seized goods, watches top the list (19.75%), ahead of bags and wallets (14.71%), clothing (11.66%) and perfumes and cosmetics (6.50%).

Source of seized items by number of articles

As for the source of goods, China remains the world leader in counterfeiting, accounting for 64.51% of seized goods. Following far behind are the United Arab Emirates (8.37%), Hong Kong (7.79%), Bulgaria (5,72%), Turkey (2.60%) and Greece (2.08%). In drawing their conclusions, European authorities noted that Morocco is gaining ground as a source of counterfeits, citing the seizure of counterfeit luxury goods such as clothing, watches, headphones, shoes and handbags.

“National governments, European decision-makers and businesses must mobilize to protect consumers, so that counterfeiting is once again considered in Europe as a manifestly illegal activity, the same as any other form of trafficking,” asserted Christian Peugeot, President of UNIFAB.

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