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2016 report on EU customs IPR enforcement

In 2015, customs authorities made over 81.000 detentions, consisting of a total of 43.7 million articles. The domestic retail value of the detained articles represented over 640 million euros. This report 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.

Right-holders may lodge an application for action requesting customs to take action in cases where a suspicion exists that an IPR is infringed. In 2015, a total of 3.332 national applications for action and 2102 Union applications for action were submitted to the customs authorities. As a Union application for action concerns two or more Member States, it is counted as several applications, i.e. equal to the number of Member States where action is requested. This leads to a total of 33.191 applications for action in 2015.

The total number of cases went down in 2015, with a decrease of 15% compared to 2014. The decrease in the number of cases can be explained by the smaller number of cases in postal traffic. The new procedure on small consignments, where goods can be destroyed when the right-holder has asked customs authorities to apply this procedure, appears to have gone done by 5% compared to 2014. After the first successful year of detentions under the small consignment procedure, some applicants have withdrawn their request, which resulted in an overall decrease of cases. The largest decrease of cases is in the product category of “sport shoes”.

In almost 91% of the detentions, the goods were either destroyed under the standard procedure, the procedure for small consignments or a court case was initiated to determine the infringement. In almost 6% of the procedures, the goods were released because no action was undertaken by the rightholder after receiving the notification by the customs authorities, of which one percentage point concerned ex-officio procedures. In less than 3% of the detentions customs authorities released the goods because they appeared to be non-infringing original goods.

China is still the main country (i.e. 41%) where suspected IPR infringing goods were coming from at the moment of the detention, and which were not released. As in former years Hong Kong, China, Malaysia and India remain in the ‘top 7’. Montenegro and Benin appear this year in the top 5 due to a large detention of foodstuff from Benin and cigarettes from Montenegro.

As in previous years, the majority of articles (i.e. 69% by number and 59% by value) detained by customs in 2015 were suspected of infringing a Community trademark (CTM), followed by national (NTM) and international (ITM) trademarks. With regard to copyright infringements (NCPR), the product categories most concerned were office stationery, toys, clothing accessories and CD/DVD.

For registered Community (CDR), unregistered Community (CDU), International (ICD) and national (ND) design and model rights also a wide variety of products were concerned with an emphasis on office stationery, other shoes, other body care items, mobile phone accessories and toys. With regard to suspicion of patent infringements (UPT/NPT), the main categories of products concerned were medicines, other body care items and computer apparatus.

In over 85% of all cases, customs action was started whilst the goods concerned were under an import procedure. In more than 11% of the cases, goods were discovered whilst being in transit with a destination in the Union and in 1% of the cases goods were under an (re-)export procedure with a destination outside the EU.