The EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and Taxation and Customs Union (DG TAXUD) have published their annual report on seizures of counterfeit goods in the European Union. Here, we summarise some of its key findings.
The latest joint EUIPO-DG TAXUD report, ‘EU enforcement of intellectual property rights: results at the EU border and in the EU internal market 2022’, has revealed that 86 million counterfeit products, with an estimated value of more than €2 billion, were seized in 2022. These seizures either took place within the EU or at one of its external borders, with Italy detaining more than half the total number of counterfeits and around 33% of the total value (approximately €660 million). As in previous years, China is identified as the main country of origin for the majority of counterfeit goods entering the EU, followed by Turkey and Hong Kong.
Anti-counterfeiting measures and seizure statistics in the EU
While the number of seized products in the EU decreased very slightly compared to 2021, their estimated value has increased, according to the report. In 2022, approximately 86 million fake items were detained and not released in the EU, as compared to 87 million items in 2021. Meanwhile, their estimated value increased to more than €2 billion, an increase of around 3% compared to the previous year.
Here, the analysis distinguishes between products that are contributing to the increase in the number of counterfeit products (such as games, packaging material, toys, cigarettes, recorded CDs and DVDs), and those increasing the total estimated value (such as watches, clothing, bags, wallets and jewellery).
What should brand owners do to tackle counterfeiting?
Illicit trade in counterfeit and pirated products represents a major global challenge, with IP crime posing a very real threat to businesses and world economies. As the report notes, “close cooperation between customs and right holders [is] of utmost importance for risk assessment in the field of IP protection”. This includes undertaking proactive and precautionary anti-counterfeiting measures, such as lodging applications for action (AFAs) to request national and EU-wide customs authorities take action in cases where they suspect an IP right is being infringed.
As we cover in our anti-counterfeiting white paper ’Is your anti-counterfeiting strategy up to scratch?’, other important anti-counterfeiting measures to consider include:
- registering key brand and product names as trademarks, and innovative design features as design rights, so that you can seek legal redress for any unauthorised use of those trademark or design rights (e.g. for the manufacture, distribution and sale of trademarked goods);
- raising awareness of the issues within your business by educating your staff, business partners and customers;
- actively policing the online market, including recording, reporting and carefully analysing the findings;
- extending your anti-counterfeiting activities to include social media sites, such as Instagram, TikTok and Facebook (for more on this, read our article ‘Getting social with your anti-counterfeiting strategy’);
- working closely with law enforcement authorities, including local Trading Standards offices and dedicated police forces, as well as Customs authorities; and
- taking enforcement action where appropriate.
How to get started
With counterfeit goods posing a significant and increasing threat, brand protection is crucial for businesses worldwide. By ensuring the integrity of your brand, you can maintain the reputation and quality of your products, and protect your bottom line.
When developing and enforcing your anti-counterfeiting strategy and targeted anti-counterfeiting measures, look for a partner that understands the challenges you face identifying and acting against counterfeit products. The right IP adviser will know, from experience, where you should start and end your anti-counterfeiting efforts, so use that knowledge to guide and assist you when taking your first – or next – step towards building an effective and measurable strategy for action.
For more information and advice on recommended anti-counterfeiting measures, tools and techniques, read our anti-counterfeiting white paper, speak to your Novagraaf attorney or contact us below.