2017 report on EU customs enforcement of intellectual property rights

The annual publication of the result of customs actions at the EU external borders provides an opportunity to measure the scale of customs actions to enforce IPR. Newly published report on EU customs enforcement on IPR contains statistical information about the detentions made under customs procedures and includes data on the description, quantities and value of the goods, their provenance, the means of transport and the type of intellectual property right that may have been infringed.

China continues to be the main country of provenance from where goods suspected of infringing an IPR were sent to the EU. Looking at the specific product categories, some other countries appear as the main country of provenance, notably Singapore for alcoholic beverages, the Islamic Republic of Iran for clothing accessories, Hong Kong, China for mobile phones and accessories, CD/DVD and accessories and parts for vehicles, and India for medicines.

The top categories of detained articles were cigarettes, which accounted for 24% of the overall amount of detained articles followed by toys (17%), foodstuff (13%), packaging material (12%) and other goods (8%). Compared with 2015, the category packaging material substituted labels, tags and stickers in the top 5. In 82% of the detention procedures started by customs, the goods were destroyed after the owner of the goods and the right-holder agreed on destruction. In 8% of the detentions a court case was started to determine the infringement or as part of criminal proceedings.

Right-holders may lodge an application for action requesting customs to take action in cases where a suspicion exists that an IPR is infringed. Applications for action can be requested on a national or on a Union basis and are valid for one year at a time. In 2016, a total of 3 040 national applications for action and 1 179 Union applications for action were submitted to the customs authorities.

The total number of cases (each case representing an interception by customs) went further down in 2016, with a decrease of 22% compared to 2015. In relation to the categories involved, there have been no major changes in the type of products detained compared to last year. The largest decrease of cases in absolute numbers is in the product categories of «handbags» and «shoes». The total amount of articles detained has again shown an increase compared to the previous 4 years, with 41.3 million articles in 2016

As in previous years, the majority of articles (i.e. 92% by number and 88% by value) detained by customs in 2016 were suspected of infringing a trademark, first Union (CTM) followed by international (ITM) and national (NTM) trademarks. The registered Community (CDR), unregistered Community (CDU), International (ICD) and national (ND) design and model rights are covering higher percentages of detentions than in 2015 with a wide variety of products concerned and with an emphasis on office stationery, toys, items, mobile phone accessories, lighters and other body care articles.

With regard to copyright infringements (NCPR), the product categories most concerned were toys, bags including wallets, purses and other similar goods, mobile phones and office stationery. With regard to suspicion of patent infringements (UPT/NPT/ SPCM), the main categories of products concerned were mobile phones, medicines, LED lights and laminate flooring. With regard to suspicion of plant variety right infringements (CPVR), the involved products, namely fruit, belonged to the foodstuff category. In 2016, the detentions related to geographical indications concerned GIs for spirit drinks (CGIS).