EU Customs Detention In Intellectual Property Cases: Analysis Of Latest Statistics

Author:Mr Jeremy Morton
Profession:CMS Cameron McKenna LLP


The Taxation and Customs Union at the European Commission has recently published its statistics for 2010 of customs data relating to the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRs) across the EU. The Customs Union takes a robust approach to tackling the problem of counterfeit goods and provides for Member States to implement enforcement measures via national customs authorities under the Counterfeit Goods Regulation (1383/2003). Member States are also required to provide details of any detentions of goods made by customs involving infringements of IPRs under Regulation 1891/2004. This submission of information enables the creation of the report and the breakdown of data shows interesting trends on an EU wide scale. The report utilises the data gleaned from, among other things, the number of cases, the number of articles (i.e. the total number of individual infringing goods), and the total domestic retail value of the goods, which is calculated on the basis of what the goods would be worth if they were genuine.

Key outcomes of 2010

The amount of cases increased significantly, with 79,112 cases in 2010 as opposed to 43,572 cases in 2009. However the total number of articles detained decreased slightly. Germany and the UK between them comprised over half of the total number of cases in the EU. The total value of all goods detained is estimated at 1 billion euro. 91.82% of articles detained were those suspected of infringing trade marks (either national or CTM) as opposed to other IPRs (notably patents, design rights and copyright). The number of applications made by right-holders was just over 18,000, an increase of nearly 4,000 from the previous year. The main country of provenance, or the country where the goods were known to have been sent from (note this is not necessarily the same as the country of origin), was China, accounting for 85% of all articles detained. The 82% increase in the number of cases since 2009 is undoubtedly due to the increase in detentions of postal items and this now comprises the biggest proportion of cases (61.93%). This increase has in turn arguably come about as a result of the rise in internet sales. The rise in postal detentions (there were 48,997 cases as opposed to just 15,003 in 2009), is interesting considering that distribution by post makes it difficult for customs authorities to intercept infringing items, especially when it is not cost-efficient or administratively workable to...

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