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Practice Areas

EU Sees Major Decline in IPR Seizures in 2012, but Value Remains High

Tuesday, August 06, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The European Commission reports that in 2012 EU customs authorities detained 39.9 million products suspected of violating intellectual property rights, down 65% from 2011. However, the number of detentions fell only slightly to 90,473 and the domestic retail value of goods seized remained high at nearly €1 billion.

According to information provided by the Commission, cigarettes accounted for 30.9% of the total number of articles seized for IPR infringement, followed by miscellaneous goods (e.g. bottles, lamps, glue, batteries, washing powder) at 11.82%, packaging materials at 9.8%, clothing at 8.5%, toys at 4.1% and perfumes and cosmetics at 3.6%.

China continued to be the main source of infringing goods, accounting for 64.5% of the total articles seized, followed by the United Arab Emirates at 8.4%, Hong Kong at 7.8%, Bulgaria at 5.7%, Turkey at 2.6%, Greece at 2.1% and Moldova at 1.7%. However, other countries were the top source for specific product categories, such as Morocco for foodstuffs, Hong Kong for CD/DVDs and other tobacco products (mainly electronic cigarettes and liquid fillings for them), and Bulgaria for packaging materials.

In more than three-quarters (76.8%) of all cases the detained materials were destroyed, while the right-holder initiated a court case to establish IPR infringement for another 13.9%. In 8.2% of the cases, the goods were released because they appeared to be non-infringing original goods (3.26%) or no action was undertaken by the right-holder after receiving notification from customs authorities (4.90%).

The number of cases related to postal and courier traffic remained around 70 % of all detentions and principally concerned shoes, personal accessories like bags and wallets, clothing, and audio/video equipment. In terms of the number of articles detained in postal traffic, medicines remained the top category with 23%.

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