The European Customs Union has released figures for the number of seizures of counterfeit goods across the EU for 2015. The report states that items seized infringing on trademark or IP law increased by 5 million since 2014's report.
This equates to a 15% rise in seizures and a total of 40 million products seized. The value of these illegal products is estimated to be near €650 million.
The report details the enforcement of the IPR and provides a comprehensive review of the practice of counterfeiting. Details included are: country of origin, goods detained, IPR law involved and even modes of transport.
This has not surprised the many experts who have commented on steady increases in recent years, Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs stated that:
"… the criminal activity which swamps our internal market with fake and illegal products shows no sign of abating."
In the same statement the Commissioner spoke of the excellent work that authorities are doing and that departments of the EU will continue to work together. However for many businesses this simply isn’t enough.
Where are counterfeits coming from?
As expected China was the main source of counterfeits, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by businesses; some like U.S. luxury brand Coach have have stopped selling their products on Alibaba-owned retail site Tmall. This is not exclusive to China, however, this year Birkenstock stopped selling on Amazon for similar reasons.
The most seized product were cigarettes (27%) which has consistently been top of the list despite being one of the most dangerous counterfeit products, however other counterfeit products that also pose a risk to consumers were common such as food, medicine, children’s toys and electronic goods, which account for about 25% of seizures collectively.
In regards to counterfeit medicines, India was the main source during 2015, overtaking China. This didn’t reflect a slowing of Chinese production but probably increased production in fake medicines in India, a country which has long had domestic problems with counterfeit pharmaceuticals.
Mexico and Morocco were the main sources of fake beverages, however the OECD stated earlier this year that the majority of fake alcohol is produced within the EU and much harder to trace; In fact Spain in the country worst affected by counterfeit alcohol.
Almost all of the seizures were destroyed (91%) or are pending a court verdict to be destroyed. The Customs Union in the EU is one-of-a-kind in the world and is the lynch pin of the European Single Market. Without the Customs Union, products would be unable to move freely between countries, so it’s immensely important that the borders of the single market are protected. All 28 counties work together to facilitate legal trade: the EU today is one of the world’s largest trading areas, worth about €3.5 trillion. However to put the scale of counterfeiting into perspective, counterfeits, black market and pirated goods are worth an estimated €1.7 trillion globally.
The counterfeit industry is a complex and growing problem, and authorities have long-struggled to control the rising number and availablity of counterfeits. We have compiled a comprehensive oveview to the causes and consequences of counterfieting. This is an opportunity to better understand the causal factors and the challenges that businesses face when trying to prevent counterfeiting, in order to understand where resources are best placed.