Innovation and creativity are the drivers of our economy. Therefore, it is important to provide rightholders with the certainty that their inventions will be duly protected. The competitiveness of European companies depends on it.

The enforcement of intellectual and industrial property rights by European customs is a priority for the European Commission and for Member States.

The European Commission published the “Report on the EU customs enforcement of intellectual property rights: Results at the EU border 2018” on 24 September 2019. The report shows that the number of interceptions of counterfeit goods imported to the EU increased in 2018 as a result of the large quantity of small packages in express postal traffic. The figures for detentions of these shipments increased from 57,433 in 2017 to 69,354 in 2018, although the total amount of articles detained (almost 27 million in 2018, with a market value of almost 740 million euros) fell by 15% compared with 2017.

The main categories of items detained were cigarettes (15% of the total amount of items detained), followed by toys (14%), packaging material (9%), labels and stickers (9%), and clothing (8%). Products for daily use, such as body care articles, medicines, toys and electrical household appliances, constituted almost 37% of the total amount of articles detained.

China remained the principal country of provenance of goods infringing intellectual property rights. North Macedonia was the main country of provenance for counterfeit alcoholic beverages. Turkey was the main source for other beverages, perfumes and cosmetics. EU customs detected a high number of fake watches, mobile telephones and accessories, ink and toner cartridges, CDs/DVDs, labels, tags and stickers from Hong Kong (China). India was the main country of provenance for computer equipment, Cambodia for cigarettes, and Bosnia-Herzegovina for packaging material.

The number of cases of detentions in air and sea transport have fallen, while the cases of detentions in courier and postal shipments increased, the latter amounting to 84% of the total number of cases, consisting mainly of consumer goods purchased via e-commerce. Sea transport remains in first place (54.29%) in terms of the means of transport with the highest number of articles detained.

Spain is in third place among the top ten European countries, which jointly account for 90% of all detention cases, with a total de 3,934 cases in 2018 compared with 3,740 cases in 2017 (+ 5%). However, Spain holds the 11th position in the ranking of articles detained, with 1,305,972 articles detained in 2018 in comparison with 1,776,405 articles in 2017 (- 26%), practically level with Belgium in 10th position, with 1,307,944 articles. Spain therefore joins the leading group of the 4 top ten countries in the EU in terms of the number of detention cases and articles detained.

For Spain it will pose a great challenge to maintains its leading position in the EU top ten in relation to customs detention in defence of intellectual and industrial property rights.

Author: Juan José Caselles
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