Mar 25, 2009
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Europe cracking down on counterfeits

Mar 25, 2009

The European Council on the 16th and 17th of March adopted a new plan of action for customs offices fighting against counterfeits - a phenomenon which now effects every industry. The plan aims to “protect the health and security of our citizens, as well as protecting innovation, economic activity, competition and jobs,” declared the French Minister for the Budget Eric Woerth.

Prepared under the French EU presidency and presented by the Czech leadership, the plan will cover the period 2009-2012. A widespread initiative it must confront the four threats posed by the evolution and amplification of the phenomenon: “counterfeits dangerous to public health, increased organised crime stemming from counterfeiting, counterfeiting on the internet and the globalization of counterfeiting.”

Mr. Kovacs, European commissioner in charge of the union’s tax and customs, has moreover specified that “customs officers must pay particular attention [to this]”. He also insisted on, “the necessity to act throughout the world in cooperation with as many of the relevant actors possible (meaning other bodies charged with applying legislation; like the police)”.

In 2007 European customs seized more than €79 million in pirate merchandise and counterfeit goods. They were all above all listed on the internet, one of the main ways of diffusing counterfeit goods. Eric Woerth announced on February 10 the creation of a “cyber-customs”, dedicated to fighting counterfeits online.

French customs are already very involved in the fight against counterfeit goods and seizures in 2008 were up 46% from 2007 reaching 5.3 million items in the end. The ‘National Committee Against Counterfeiting” has furthermore stressed that “the things most counterfeited remain principally textiles, shoes and leather goods”. Perfume, cosmetics qnd hygiene products it should be noted still represented 8% of the seizures.

The private sector has also been carrying out campaigns to raise public awareness. The Swiss group Richemont had a global campaign on the counterfeiting of luxury watches, followed closely by a similar campaign by Hublot.

By Jonathan Fulwell (Source: Emilie-Alice Fabrizi)

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