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EU Sees Decline in Number, Value of IPR Seizures in 2013

Friday, August 01, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The European Commission reports that both the number and value of European Union seizures of goods suspected of violating intellectual property rights decreased in 2013. EU customs authorities detained 35.9 million such products last year, a 10 percent drop from 2012. In addition, the number of such detentions fell 4.0 percent to 86,854 and the domestic retail value of goods seized fell 14.3 percent to €768 million.

Categories. According to the report, clothing accounted for 12.3 percent of the total number of articles seized for IPR infringement, followed by other goods (e.g., insecticides, shoe polish, light bulbs, glue, batteries, air fresheners) at 11.1 percent, medicines at 10.1 percent, cigarettes at 9.0 percent, packaging material at 8.8 percent and toys at 7.6 percent. Top categories by number of cases included sport shoes (17.9 percent), clothing (17.4 percent), bags, wallets and purses (13.2 percent), non-sport shoes (11.5 percent), watches (5.7 percent) and sunglasses (5.0 percent).

The report notes decreases greater than 50 percent in seizures of ink cartridges and toners; sporting articles; cigarettes and other tobacco products; machines and tools; lighters; labels, tags and stickers; and textiles. Increases of more than 50 percent were recorded for foodstuffs, alcoholic beverages, jewelry and other accessories, mobile phones, CDs/DVDs, toys and games, medicines, car parts and accessories, and office stationery.

Countries. China continued to be the main source of infringing goods, accounting for 66.1 percent of the total number of articles seized, followed by Hong Kong at 13.3 percent, Greece at 5.8 percent, Turkey at 3.7 percent, the United Arab Emirates at 2.5 percent, Ghana at 2.0 percent and India at 1.8 percent. China was also the top source of seized goods in most individual product categories, with some exceptions such as Egypt for foodstuffs (34.3 percent), Turkey for perfumes and cosmetics (51.3 percent), and Hong Kong for mobile phones (47.0 percent).

Disposition. In more than three-quarters (76.9 percent) of all cases the detained materials were destroyed, while in 15.0 percent of the cases the right-holder initiated a court case to establish IPR infringement. In 2.94 percent of the cases the goods were released because they appeared to be non-infringing original goods, while no action was undertaken by the right-holder after receiving notification from customs authorities in 4.85 percent of the cases.

Transport. Most cases of seizures occurred in the postal and courier environments, which accounted for nearly 69 percent of the total. The EU states that this figure is most probably due to the more widespread use of the Internet and the possibilities consumers have to buy goods online and have them delivered directly to their home. Medicines remained the top category in terms of the number of articles detained in postal traffic (19.1 percent), followed by labels, tags and stickers (12.0 percent), mobile phones and accessories (10.3 percent), clothing (9.9 percent), perfumes and cosmetics (8.2 percent) and packaging material (8.0 percent). However, nearly two-thirds (62.2 percent) of the total number of articles seized were transported by sea.

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